Skip to main content

Full text of "The battles of Trenton and Princeton"

See other formats

",;-:;: -.-^'i'^'m? 

',' ^^^^^^^^^^^^^Bk'' ■' 


Mill \ \\ iB^iMTnnHnnniiiiiniinirnnni ^ 

'}\ :^i;'-i;-i:;:-:>::>::ir;^ ■,•■;;;: 

; • ! ' ■ '■'■''. 

■■/:v- ■ '^■'':';-i^ini 

•:• ;H;;;;::!-;-J-|-i>^:;''^;-' ':"^^;;^- 


" - ' ; Z " ! • ' - ^ - ; - 1 ■ ! ■ ! ■ .' !■■'•. I ■;.■;".-',". ' 

* ~ 1 ■ . " «' " " ! ■ t ■ 

J >; J ,-:;;:!■■ 1 .■•■•'; ';■ 

>:-;^--:-:;^':;':^ !:;;! 

■;: ;;-:::ii:;>::i-:;::::;, •;:::;;;;■:;:;;;. 


'■•'•■-'■'■*'!* t ' '. '.'',', 

.•:■ :::>^^:i:^;^:;i:::::-:'-;:;;;:;:; S'i' 


:-i ::>;::'>':i::':5:^:"-"-?::-:;:!:::; 



;;;>;::;:;:;;:;;;::;:; ^rji 

:;• ■;:::;■:•;:;■ j: ;:;■;:; -i-::^::*;"::;;^:;^^ 






Benrg W. Sage 


:A:iitL'/..i>. ■.,■■■■,..:■■....- t3////./f;f 


3 1924 086 860 784 

Cornell University 

The original of tiiis bool< is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 






A djtiia?tt- General of New Jersey ; President of the New Jersey 

Society of the Ciitcinnati ; Presidetit of the Trenton 

Battle Monument Association ; President 

of the New Jersey Historical 

Society^ etc. 




In my youth I spent many pleasant hours in hstening to 
the residents of Trenton as they related the brave deeds of 
their fathers in the old war, and told the story of the trials 
and sufferings of the heroic men and women of the Revolu- 
tionary period, which they had heard directly from the lips 
of those who had taken a part in the struggle for independ- 
ence. In my early manhood I began to take notes from the 
conversations of my mother and her aged friends, as they 
described the personal appearance and peculiarities of the 
rich merchant who had lived here in 1776 and for forty-five 
years thereafter ; of the country miller who had entered the 
village as an American spy ; of the beloved physician who 
had commanded the local military force ; of her grandfather 
who had been one of the guides of the American army to 
the surprise at Trenton. . After some years had elapsed I 
published a little pamphlet for private distribution, entitled 
"Trenton, One Hundred Years Ago," which gave a brief 
description of the citizens and their homes in the village as 
it appeared in 1776 and 1777. As I continued to study the 
past of this historic town, and found myself surrounded in 
official life by the manuscript records of those brave soldiers 
who fought for liberty in the hour that tried men's souls, I 
compiled all the authentic military rolls which I could obtain, 
and published my " Official Register of the Oiificers and Men 
of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War." In the prepara- 
tion of this work I became possessed of a large amount of 


new facts and unpublished documents relating to the battles 
of Trenton, Princeton, and Monmouth. In 1877 I crossed 
the ocean to examine the official records at Cassel, Germany, 
and in 1 892 I caused a most exhaustive search to be made in 
the State Archives at Marburg, Germany, by competent 
men, and secured copies of all documents filed there (some 
eleven hundred pages of manuscript, certified under seal as 
correct) which bear directly on the conduct of the Hessian 
force in New Jersey. This new material has never before 
been thoroughly examined by an American. Every history, 
every letter, every diary, every document that came to my 
notice has been carefully studied for facts which bear in any 
way on this important crisis in our country's history. Many 
of these documents are published in full in this volume. 
In the light of all the new material to which I have referred 
this work has been prepared, and I trust it will be found a 
complet'e history of the wonderful winter campaign of 1776 
and 1777 in New Jersey. 

For facts, advice, or careful revision I acknowledge myself 
greatly indebted to General T. F. Rodenbough, U. S. Army ; 
Colonel Asa Bird Gardiner, U. S. Army ; Professor Henry P. 
Johnston of the College of the City of New York ; Rev. Dr. 
Henry C. Cameron of Princeton University ; General Henry 
B. Carrington, U. S. Army ; Dr. Austin Scott, president of 
Rutgers College ; the late Frederick D. Stone, librarian of 
the Pennsylvania Historical Society ; William Nelson, cor- 
responding secretary of the New Jersey Historical Society ; 
Dr. William H. Egle, librarian of the State Library of Penn- 
sylvania ; Hon. John B. Linn of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania ; 
General William W. H. Davis of Doylestown, Pennsylvania ; 
Colonel E. M. Woodward of Ellisdale, Monmouth County, 
New Jersey ; Joseph H. West of Hamilton Square, Mercer 


County, New Jersey ; Hon. Garret D. W. Vroom, Captain 
Charles B. Dahlgren, Hon. William S. Yard, all of Trenton ; 
Friederich Hirschfeld of Hamburg, Germany ; the late Hon. 
Edmund D. Halsey of Dover, New Jersey ; the late Dr. 
Friederich Kapp of Berlin, Germany ; the late Dr. Benson J. 
Lossing and the late Dr. George H. Moore, and to the men 
living and dead whose books appear in the list at the close 
of this volume, as authorities cited in the work. 

W. S. S. 

Trenton, New Jersey, December 26, 1897. 




The Battles of Princeton and Trenton' ... i 


1. American Army at beginning of Campaign, 1776-1777 308 

2. Washington's Orders . . . . 310 

3. Proclamation of the Howes .... 314 

4. Hessian Field Officers . . . 316 

5. General Howe to Colonel von Donop . 316 

6. Colonel von Donop to Colonel Rall . . 318 

7. Colonel von Donop to General Leslie . 318 

8. Colonel von Donop to General Grant . . . 320 

9. Extract from a Letter to a Gentleman in Connecticut 321 

10. Colonel Joseph Reed to General Washington . 322 

11. Colonel Cadwalader to Council of Safety, 1776 . . 323 

12. Colonel Rall to Colonel von Donop . . 323 

13. Colonel von Donop to General Grant . . 324 

14. Colonel Rall to Colonel von Donop . 326 

15. General Washington to Major-General Lee . 326 

16. General Howe to Lord Germain 327 

17. Colonel Rall to Colonel von Donop . . 329 

18. General Grant to Colonel von Donop . . . 329 
ig. Colonel von Donop to General Grant . . 331 

20. Colonel Rall to Colonel von Donop . . 331 

21. Colonel Rall to Colonel von Donop . . 332 

22. Colonel von Donop to General Gr.ant . 333 

23. General Grant to Colonel Rall . . 334 

24. Lieutenant-Colonel Sterling to Colonel von Donop 335 

25. Memoranda ... . 336 

26. Captain Loray to Colonel Rall . 339 

27. General Leslie to Colonel Rall . . . 339 

28. Colonel Reed to General Washington . 339 

29. General Washington to Colonel Reed . 342 

30. Quartermaster Gamble's Circulars . . 343 

31. Colonel John Cadwalader's Division 344 

32. Brigadier-General James Ewing's Division . 346 


33. General Officers of the American Revolution . 347 

34. Field Officers of Troops under Washington's Immediate 

Command 351 

35. John Honeyman . ... 358 

36. General Mercer to Colonel Durkee . 359 

37. From Diary of an Officer on Washington's Staff 360 

38. Colonel Cadwalader to . . 364 

39- Colonel Cadwalader to . 365 

40. Colonel Clement Kiddle to . . 365 

41. Tench Tilghman to James Tilghman, Esq. . . 366 

42. Extract of Letter from an Officer of Distinction . 367 

43. From the "Pennsylvania Evening Post" . 369 

44. Colonel Clement Biddle to Committee of Safety . 369 

45. Lieutenant Patrick Duffy to Colonel Thomas Procter 370 

46. Colonel Knox to his Wife . . 371 

47. Captain Thomas Forrest to Colonel Thomas Procter 372 

48. Governor Tryon to Lord Germain . . . 373 

49. Memorandum in General Robert Anderson's Letter Book 373 

50. Proclamation . . 374 

51. Captain William Hull, Seventh Connecticut Regiment, 

TO Andrew Adams ... . . 375 

52. Colonel John Haslet to C^sar Rodney . 376 

53. Commissioned Officers of Rall's Brigade, December, 1776 378 

54. General Mercer to Colonel Durkee 379 

55. Hessian Outposts of Trenton . . 379 

56. Hessians who escaped Capture . ... 383 

57. Return of Prisoners taken at Trenton . . 386 

58. Hessian Prisoners of War . 386 

59. Roster of Officers of Rall's Brigade . 388 

60. Lord Stirling to Governor Livingston . . 394 

61. Proclamation by the Pennsylvania Council of Safety 395 

62. Count de Schaumburg to Baron Hohendorf . . 396 

63. Colonel von Donop to General Knyphausen . 398 

64. General Grant to Colonel von Donop . 400 

65. General von Heister to the Prince of Hesse 401 

66. Earl of Suffolk to General von Heister . 402 

67. Prince of Hesse to Lieutenant-General von Knyphausen 403 

68. Friedrich L. I. Hessen to General von Knyphausen . 404 

69. Return Casualties Rall's Brigade . . . 408 

70. Proceedings of Hessian Court-Martial . . 409 

71. Finding of Hessian Court-Martial 411 

72. Report of Hessian War Commission . . . 419 

73. Colonel Cadwalader to General Washington . 423 

74. General Leslie to Colonel von Donop .... 424 

75. General Leslie to Colonel von Donop . . . 424 

76. General Grant to Colonel von Donop . . . 425 

77. General Grant to Colonel von Donop . . . 425 

78. Colonel von Donop to General Grant . . 426 

79. General Washington to Colonel Cadwalader . . 427 


80. General Washington to the Congress . . 429 

8t. British P'grces in New Jersey . ... 430 

83. General Mifflin's Orders 

83. General Cadwalader to General Washington 

84. General Washington to the Congress . 

85. General Knox to his Wife 

86. Colonel Reed to General Putnam . 

87. General Putnam to .... 

88. From the Journal of Captain Thomas Rodney 

89. Private Lardner to Captain Smith 
go. Congressional News 

91. Doctor Potts to Owen Piddle 

92. General Cadwalader to Council of Safety 

93. Letter from an Officer of Distinction .... 446 

94. Colonel Lambert Cadwalader to Mrs. Samuel Meredith 448 

95. General Knox to his Wife 

96. Lord Stirling to 8 , 1777 . 

97. American Officers killed at Princeton 

98. British Officers killed at Princeton 

99. British Casualties at Princeton . 
100. General Howe's Congratulations 
Id. Note on General Mercer . 

102. Washington's Report on Princeton 

103. General Washington to General Putnam 

104. Comments on the Battle of Princeton . 

105. Letter from the American Army . 

106. Major Samuel Meredith to . . . 468 

107. Letter from the British Army . . 469 

108. From the "New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury" 471 

109. General Greene to . . . . 472 

no. From the "Freeman's Journal" . . 473 

III. From the "Pennsylvania Evening Post" . 474 

n2. From the "Connecticut Journal" . . . 475 

113. Proclamation. . . . . .... 476 

114. From George Inman's Narrative of the American Revo- 

lution ... 477 

115. Sergeant Joseph White's Narration . . . . 478 

116. Extract from the Journal of Lieutenant Samuel Shaw 

OF THE Artillery ... . ... 480 

117. From Almon's Parliamentary Register . 482 

118. General Howe to Lord Germain .... 482 

119. Lord Germain to H. M. Peace Commissioners . 483 

120. Translation of a Hessian Diary . . . . 483 

121. From an English Book of Orders found at Trenton 484 

122. Contemporaneous Documents . . . 485 

Books examined and Authorities used in the preparation of 

THIS Work . . . 486 

Index . . . ' . . . . 493 









George Washington {photogravure) Frontispiece 

From the painting by Charles Wilson Peale, in the museum of Princeton 


Lord Cornwallts's Path 3 

On Old Closter Dock Road (now Alpine, Bergen County, N. J.), as it ap- 
peared in September, 1S97. 

Adjutant-General Joseph Reed, Staff of the Commander-in- 
Chief 7 

Brigadier-General Thomas Mifflin, Continental Army . 9 
General Sir William Howe, British Commander-in-Chief . 1 1 
William Livingston, First Governor of New Jersey . . 13 
Captain Alexander Hamilton, New York Provincial Com- 
pany of Artillery ... . . ... 16 

Residence of Quartermaster Robert Stockton, Prince- 
ton, N. J 17 

■'Tusculum," the residence of Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon . , 19 

Lieutenant-Gexeral Charles Cornwallis, British Army . 21 
Admiral Richard Howe, British Navy . . -23 

Protection Paper signed by Colonel Rail in Trenton .... 24 
From the original in possession of the author. 

Washington's Headquarters (present appearance) . . 29 

At Trenton Landing on the Pennsylvania shore of the river. Called by 
him " Mr. Berkeley's summer seat." 

Colonel Knox's Headquarters (from a photograph in 1894) . 31 
Owned in 1776 by Dr. Chapman. Situated near Jericho Hill, about a mile 
from Brownsburg, Bucks Co., Fa. 

Washington's Headquarters, called the " Keith House " • . 33 

From a photograph. 

Major-General Israel Putnam, Continental Army . . 35 

Hessian Grenadier 41 

Parole of Rev. Jonathan Odell, of Burlington, N. J. . 43 

From the original in possession of the author. 

Major-General James Grant, British Army ... 49 


Major-General Charles Lee, Continental Arnay 55 

iMajor-Gexeral John Sullivan, Continental Army ... 60 

Brig.vdier-General Alexander Leslie, British Army . . 71 

George Washixgtox ..... • ■ 79 

After the TnuiibuH portrait in Vale College. 
Colonel Johx Cadwalader, Philadelphia Associators . .81 
Ferry-House of Patrick Colvin 82 

Still standing at Trenton Ferry on ttie Pennsylvania side of the Delaware 

Brigadier-General Philemon Dickinson, New Jersey Militia 83 

Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel B. Webb 84 

Plan of the Operations of General Washington against 

THE King's Troops in New Jersey facing 84 

Rall's Headquarters 92 

The house of Stacy Potts, and the residences of Miss Rebecca Coxe and 
Thomas Barnes. 

■Ky Map of Trenton, New Jersey, in 1776. (Prepared by Wil- 
liam S. Yard) . .... ... . . 93 

Post-Office, on the corner of Second and King streets ... 94 
City Tavern, on the corner of Second and King streets . 95 

The " Old Barracks " (present appearance) 97 

Fox Chase Tavern . . loi 

Dr. William Bryant. . . . in 

Lieutenant-Colonel Abraham Hunt, First Regiment Hunter- 
don County Militia .... . .121 

Residence of Abraham Hunt . . . .123 

Lieutenant Piel's Map . . facing 124 

Lieutenant Wiederhold's Map . . facing 126 

Lieutenant Fischer's Map . facing 128 

Major-General Horatio Gates, Continental Army 130 

Monument at Taylorsville, Pa. . . ... 131 

Near the spot where Washington crossed the Delaware. Erected by the 
Bucks County Historical Society, October 15, 1895. 

Colonel John Glover . . . 132 

From his portrait in The Surrender of Burgoyne by John Trumbull. 
John Russell, private in Colonel Glover's regiment . . . 133 

From the bronze statute at the doorway of the Trenton Battle Monument 
presented by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

Washington crossing the Delaware 135 

After the painting by F. Leutze in the New York Metropolitan Museum. 


"The Continental Akmv crossing the Delaware" . 136 

Bronze tablet on the Trenton Battle Monument presented by the Com- 
monwealth of Pennsylvania. 

House at " Washington's Crossing " . . . . . 137 

Still standing on the New Jersey side. 

Amos Scudder .... .139 

One of the guides of Washington's army down the River road to the bat- 
tle of Trenton, December 26, 1776. 

Gun carried by Amos Scudder when guiding. Washing- 
ton's Army to the Surprise at Trenton ... . . 140 
Monument at Washington's Crossing, New Jersey . 141 

Erected by the New Jersey Society of tlie Cincinnati, October 15, 1895. 

Bear Tavern (still standing) at Jacob's Creek, Mercer County . 142 

Major-General Nathanael Greene, Continental Army . . 143 

Richard Howell's Cooper-Shop . ... 146 

The Hessian picket post on the Pennington road. 

Alexander Calhoun's House . 148 

The quarters of Captain von Altenbockum's company. 
Blair McClenachan, private in Philadelphia Troop of Light 

Horse ... . ... 149 

From the bronze statue at the doorway of the Trenton Battle Monument 
presented by the City Troop of Philadelphia. 
Captain Samuel Morris, Philadelphia Troop of Light Horse 150 
"The Hermitage," residence of General Philemon Dickinson . 151 

The yager picket post on the River road. 
The -Barracks (as they appeared at the time of the battle at 

Trenton) i53 

Headquarters Guard-House (Lieutenant Sternickel in com- 
mand on Christmas night) . . ... 154 
Still standing on the southeast corner of Warren and Perry streets, Tren- 

Place where the Artillery opened on the Hessian 

Troops (as it appeared in Revolutionary days) . ... 155 

Trenton Battle Monument . . . • iS7 

General Washington . . 160 

From the bronze statue on the top of the Trenton Battle Monument pre- 
sented by the State of New York. 

High Ground where Washington remained during the 
Battle . . . . ... . . . . . 161 

"Opening of the Fight" ... ... 163 

From the bronze tablet on the Trenton Battle Monument presented by the 
State of New York. 


Captain William Washington, Third Virginia Continental 

Regiment . . . . 164 

Lieutenant James Monroe, Third Virginia Continental Regi- 
ment . . . . . 165 

Captain Thomas Forrest, Pennsylvania State Artillery Bat- 
talion . ... 167 

General John Stark . . . . 169 

From the statue in the Capitol at Washington, 
iMr. Davies' House, on Second street ... . . 171 

Methodist Church, on corner of Queen and Fourth streets . .173 
Presbyterian Church, on Second street . ... . . 175 

Friends' Meeting House, on Third street . . . 181 

"Surrender of the Hessians" . . ... 183 

From the bronze tablet on the Trenton Battle Monument presented by the 
State of Connecticut. 

Major James Wilkinson, acting as aide-de-camp to General 

St. Clair . . , . 185 

Brigadier-General Lord Stirling, Continental Army . 186 

Generals Washington and Greene calling on Colonel 
Rall at the House of Stacy Potts . . . 191 

From the painting by George W. Flagg. The likeness of Rail is from a 
sketch made by Colonel John Trumbull. 

Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rall 197 

From painting by George W. Flagg. 

The von Lossberg Regimental Flag . 203 

Colonel Henry Knox, Continental Artillery ... . 205 

Flag of the Philadelphia Troop of Light Horse . . . 209 
Signatures of Hessian Officers on the Parole . .212 
The House of Major John Barnes, the loyalist 247 

The headquarters of General Washington, December 30, 31, and January i. 
"Morven," the residence of the Hon. Richard Stockton . 249 

Facsimile of Washington's Call to Arms, December 31, 

1776 . .... 252 

Friends' Meeting House at Crosswicks . . . 255 

Robert Morris . . 257 

Colonel Edward Hand, of the Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment . 259 
Captain Henry' Miller, of the Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment . 260 
General Washington at the Bridge over the Assun- 

PINK Creek . . . 262 

After the painting by Colonel John Trumbull. 


The Beakes House (still standing) .... . . 267 

The Douglass House . 270 

General St. Clair's headquarters, where General Washington held a council 
of war, January 2, 1777. 

Tavern kept by Jonathan Richmond 271 

General Washington's headquarters, January 2, 1777. 
Brigadier-General Arthur St. Clair, Continental Army . . 272 
Chair used by General Washingto_n at the Council of 
War held in the Douglass House, Trenton, January 2, 

1777. Now in the Battle Monument 273 

The Quaker Meeting House at Stony Brook on the 
Pri.ncetox Battlefield . 276 

The building is still standing. It was used as a hospital after the battle, 
and many of the dead were interred in the graveyard adjoining. 

Interior of the Quaker Meeting House at Stony Brook 277 

Bridge over Stony Brook 278 

Map of the " Lower Road to Princeton " ... 279 

Brigadier-General Hugh Mercer, Continental Army . .281 
Wounding of General Mercer at Battle of Princeton 283 
Sword of General Hugh Mercer . . . 284 

Given on the battlefield to Colonel Jacob Morgan, first battalion, Philadel- 
phia Associators, and by him to the St. Andrew's Society of Philadelphia. It 
is now in the rooms of the Pennsylvania Historical Society in Philadelphia. 

The House of Thomas Olden . . ... . 287 

Now the lodge of Drumthwacket, the residence of M. Taylor Pyne, a trustee 
of the Princeton University. 

Map of the Battlefield of Princeton ... ... 288 

Prepared from a map made by the late Professor Albert B. Dod for the 
library of the college. 
Nassau Hall, as it appeared at the time of the battle of Prince- 
ton . ... 289 

Ensign Anthony Morris, Philadelphia Battalion of Associators 291 
Stone at the Grave of Captain Leslie;, of the British 

Army ' 293 

House in which General Mercer died 294 

Room in which General Mercer died . . ... 295 

The stains made by his blood are to be seen on the left of the picture. 

Dr. Benjamin Rush .... 299 

John Van Doren's House (present appearance), Somerset 

Court House . . • ■ • • 3°! 

Where General Washington spent the night of January 3, 1777. 



Nowhere in the annals of warfare can be found a coun- 
terpart of the winter campaign of Washington and his army 
in I JJ^i-JJ — that army which left the vicinity of New York 
a ragged, starved, defeated, demoralized band, which passed 
through the Jerseys and over the river, then dashed upon 
the Hessian advance, punished the flank of the British line, 
doubled on its own bloody tracks through the village of 
Princeton, and at last marched into quarters an army of vic- 
tors. In just one month and a half the patriot troops of 
America had been forced to surrender the forts of the Hud- 
son and beat an inglorious retreat ; then they struck such 
blows at the royal army that it was thought prudent to allow 
them to reorganize, undisturbed, among the mountains of 
Morris County. 

On the 27th day of August, 1776, the disastrous battle of 
Long Island was fought. At that time the American army 
had never met the enemy in the open, and it was with great 
solicitude that General Washington contemplated a conflict 
between his small unskilled force and the trained troops of 
England and Hesse. The battle was also unequal in that 
the foreign soldiery outnumbered our own fully one half. 
And although the patriots fought bravely, — the Continental 
battalions of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, with 
the militia levies of New York and ISTew Jersey, inflicting 


great damage on the enemy, — they were overwhelmed and 
thoroughly routed. About 600 men were killed and over 
1000 taken prisoners, among whom were the general officers 
Sullivan, Woodhull and Lord Stirling. 

The effect of this disaster upon the commander-in-chief 
and his troops was absolutely distressing. Almost in despair 
they abandoned the soil they had defended so bravely, and 
during the night of August 29, and in the fog of the early 
morning of the following day, they quietly passed over the 
East River into New York. 

In October the affairs at Harlem Heights and White 
Plains took place, but without any decided results. On 
November 16, after a severe assault and a loss to the British 
army of about 800 men slain, Fort Washington, with its gar- 
rison of 2000 soldiers of the Continental line and 600 of the 
militia, was surrendered to General Howe. This garrison 
marched out between the Hessian regiments of Rail and 
von Lossberg and laid down its arms. Colonel Rail was 
mentioned in orders for his gallantry on this occasion. 

Not a week later General Greene was compelled to aban- 
don Fort Lee, on the west bank of the Hudson River, when 
he found that Lieutenant-General Cornwallis, who had 
landed with a force of some 4000 men at old Closter Dock 
in the early morning of November 20, and ascended the 
steep and rocky roadway to the top of the ridge of the Pali- 
sades, was rapidly gaining a position which would soon make 
the fort utterly untenable. In making a hasty retreat to the 
main army at Hackensack, New Jersey, General Greene's 
division had time to carry only their firearms and ammu- 
nition. The want of wagons and the necessity for a rapid 
withdrawal of the garrison compelled them to abandon a 
large quantity of commissary stores, camp equipage and 
baggage, thirty mounted guns and two brass mortars. 

The American army had lost in prisoners 329 officers and 
4101 enhsted men, in all 4430 soldiers, during the past 
twelve weeks. 

The remnant of the army was posted on the west bank 


of the Hackensack River, under the immediate command of 
General Washington, who occupied the house of Peter 
Zabriskie in the village of Hackensack. Official reports 
made at that time show scarcely 4000 men fit for duty, and 
even this force was being constantly diminished. The divi- 
sion of troops under General Greene was entirely without 
tents, and in great need of shoes, stockings and blankets. 


The chilling frosts and cold winds which swept down the 
Highland range through the valley of the Hackensack 
already betokened the early approach of winter. Under the 
circumstances it did not appear possible for General Wash- 
ington to fortify himself there and give battle. A sufficient 
quantity of shovels and axes could not be procured for the 
purpose of intrenching the position. The river was fordable 
in many places, and not all the people of that section of the 
State could be counted on as thoroughly true to the cause 
of independence. An appearance of preparation for resist- 
ance was for some time assumed, but the idea of contesting 


the British advance was not for a moment seriously enter- 

The future of the states never wore a more gloomy aspect 
than at this period. Desertions increased daily ; hardly a 
recruit joined the army, and the militia remaining could not 
be depended on for any active duty. There was imminent 
danger that the force might be hemmed in between the 
Passaic and Hackensack rivers and be unable to extricate 
itself. For the patriot army to give battle was but to invite 
defeat and the early surrender of " the lives, fortunes and 
sacred honor " which its representatives in the Continental 
Congress had just solemnly pledged. A retreat across the 
State was the only alternative, and this must be made by a 
demoralized band, closely followed by the trained troops of 
Britain. It was, indeed, a hazardous expedient. 

By the direction of Congress, General Washington ordered 
General Philip Schuyler, who, with the Continental line of 
New Jersey and Pennsylvania, was then at Ticonderoga, on 
Lake Champlain, to send aid to him without delay. These 
troops, however, had nearly completed their terms of service, 
and were reluctant to re-enlist for the war. Brigadier-Gen- 
eral Hugh Mercer, with his flying camp which had been 
stationed at Bergen Neck for some months, was ordered to 
report to the commander-in-chief, although his troops, hav- 
ing scarcely a week longer to serve, were rapidly absenting 
themselves without leave. Major-General Charles Lee, who 
had commanded the rear-guard of the army during the oc- 
cupancy of New York, and who was still stationed at White 
Plains, on the east side of the Hudson River, under orders 
from General Washington, dated November lo, 1776,^ had 
been instructed to cross the river and join the main army. 
General Lee's command, like the rest, was suffering from de- 
sertions. Having completed all the preparations which could 
be made, General Washington began the retreat through the 
Jerseys with only twenty-eight regiments of infantry, three 

1 The Lee Papers, vol. ii. p. 267, New York Historical Society Col- 


companies of artillery and a detachment of dragoons, — say, 
5500 oiBcers and men.^ 

As already stated. General Washington feared that his 
army might soon be hemmed in between the Hackensack 
and Passaic rivers ; therefore, on the 2 1 st day of Novem- 
ber he began his march southward by crossing the Acquack- 
anonk bridge over the Passaic River to its westerly bank, 
and, during the evening of the 22d and early on the morning 
of the 23d, posted his force at Newark. The British ad- 
vance column under Major-General the Hon. John Vaughan, 
colonel of the Forty-sixth regiment of foot, soon after ap- 
peared on the east bank of the Hackensack River, ready 
to commence the march into New Jersey which General 
Washington had predicted in his letter to Congress, Novem- 
ber 6, 1776. The rear-guard of the American army, which 
had remained near the village of Hackensack, quickly burned 
the bridge over the river, and hastened to join their retreat- 
ing comrades. 

Amid all these discouraging circumstances. General Wash- 
ington was still planning some movement which might bring 
success. The Rev. William Gordon, D. D., in his "History 
of the American Revolution," gives us this account of a 
conversation which is said to have occurred about this 
time between the American chief and his adjutant-general : 
" Should we retreat to the back parts of Pennsylvania, will 
the Pennsylvanians support us .? " Colonel Reed answered, 
" If the lower counties are subdued and give up, the back 
counties will do the same." The general passed his hand 
over his throat, and remarked : " My neck does not feel 
as though it was made for a halter. We must retire to 
Augusta County in Virginia. Numbers will be obliged to 
repair to us for safety ; and we must try what we can do in 
carrying on a predatory war ; and if overpowered we must 
cross the Alleghany Mountains." It is quite apparent that 
he had no intention of abandoning the sacred cause to which 
he had devoted his life. 

^ For details see Part ii. No. i. 


Even at this early stage of the war we can clearly trace 
in the character of Washington qualities all important to a 
successful commanding general — a brave heart, unwearied 
vigilance, great strength of will and boundless resources. 
His profession in early life made him a close observer of the 
topography of the country through which he passed, and 
prepared him to utilize his knowledge when the time for ac- 
tion arrived. Defeat seldom depressed him for any length 
of time, and in the hour of victory he preserved a calm 
demeanor. His patience under the ofttimes slow and unwise 
action of Congress is a marvel to the historians of to-day. 
His dignified bearing attracted the attention of everyone, 
and the grandetir of his character and hfe compelled all to 
honor, respect and trust him. Far above the petty intrigues 
of military life, he was so strong in his patriotism, so pro- 
found in his conviction of ultimate success, that all cabals 
ended in finding him stronger alike with the soldiery and 
the people. 

At Newark General Washington halted his entire force, 
sent his sick to Morristown, and made every exertion to re- 
organize his shattered command. Desertions were of hourly 
occurrence. The New Jersey brigade had about completed 
its tour of duty, and all the influence of its leaders was 
required to prevent the dissolution of the army. 

At this juncture one more effort was made by the com- 
mander-in-chief to procure reinforcements. His adjutant- 
general, Colonel Joseph Reed, a Jerseyman by birth, was 
dispatched to Governor William Livingston on November 
23, with the urgent request that he and the legislature of 
New Jersey, then sitting at Burlington, would urge forward 
recruits for the army. General Washington wrote, "The 
critical situation of our affairs and the movements of the 
enemy make some further and immediate exertions abso- 
lutely necessary." 

No man was more freely admitted to the confidence and 
counsel of General Washington than his friend Reed, and to 
no man did he more frequently refer for advice. To him 


Washington always wrote with a familiarity and frankness 
wliicli lie never used toward any other officer. Colonel Reed 
was always energetic and brave, a model staff officer, a " won- 
derfully quick, penetrating genius," and an accomplished 


gentleman. Who has not heard the indignant answer which 
he made to George Johnstone, the British diplomatist, who 
had tried to bribe him to return to the support of the Eng- 
lish crown, — "I am not worth purchasing, but, such as I am, 
the King of Great Britain is not rich enough to do it." 

As a result of Adjutant-General Reed's efforts an act 
was passed by the Council and General Assembly of New 
Jersey to organize four battalions of state troops by embody- 
ing, as occasion required, a certain quota of volunteers from 
the militia of the different counties. Great efforts were 
made to put this force into the field, but it does not appear 


that they took any part in the brilHant events which fol- 

Brigadier-General Thomas Mifflin, at the request of the 
other general officers, was sent to Congress, then in session 
at Philadelphia, and to the adjacent counties, to arouse the 
patriotism of the people and urge them, in view of the im- 
pending fate of their principal city, to encourage enlistments 
and hurry forward troops. He was well received by Con- 
gress, he " spoke animatedly pleasing, which gave great satis- 
faction," and a committee was appointed to advise with him 
and aid him. His success in dispatching reinforcements 
will appear more fully hereafter.^ 

To add to his discouragement, Washington was compelled, 
on November 24, to send Colonel David Forman and his bat- 
talion from General Nathaniel Heard's brigade to Monmouth 
County to suppress an outbreak among the loyalists of that 
section of the State, with orders to " apprehend all persons 
who appear to be concerned in any plot or design against 
the liberty or safety of the United States." " Black David," 
as he was called, full of energy and merciless severity, was 
the very man to suppress an intestine conflict around his 
own home. This he did quickly and well. 

On November 26 the American force at Newark made 
a demonstration against the English, but it was ineffectual. 
On Thursday morning, the 28th day of November, Wash- 
ington abandoned the town, after a rest of nearly a week, 
and with his broken forces resumed the memorable retreat 
through the Jerseys. Again and again he hoped to receive 

1 General Mifflin was well suited for this work. He was born in 
Philadelphia in tlie year 1744, and although of Quaker parentage he 
early displayed all the great qualifications of the soldier. When Gen- 
eral Washington took command of the army, Mifflin was placed on his 
staff as colonel and quartermaster-general. He was made a brigadier- 
general, May 16, 1776, and October i of the same year Congress re- 
quested him to resume the office of quartermaster-general. Soon after 
the battle of Princeton he received tlie commission of major-general. 
He was a man of pleasing manners, singularly attractive presence, and 
in speech he was truly eloquent. 


aid from the militia of New Jersey and the neighboring 
States, so tliat he might make a temporary stand, inflict 
some damage on the foe, and then retire to the Delaware 
River. But no large body of recruits joined him until he 
reached Trenton, and all the while the remnant of his ragged 
army was compelled to fall back before the British force. 


12,000 strong, confidently advancing. The enemy's advance 
guard entered Newark, November 28, as the American army 
left that city. 

It is difficult to understand how the patriot army sustained 
itself and concealed its weakness in the face of such a power- 
ful enemy. A very small detachment of the Second regi- 
ment of light dragoons. Continental army, commanded by 


Colonel Elisha Sheldon of Connecticut, appears to have been 
the only cavalry for protecting the flanks of the American 
army and impeding the British advance. ^ 

When the Americans left Newark, one column marched 
by way of Elizabeth Town and Woodbridge, and the other 
by Springfield, Scotch Plains, and Quibbletown, now New 
Market, Middlesex County, reaching Brunswick at noon on 
Friday, the 29th day of November. They formed a junc- 
tion there with a small body of troops under Brigadier-Gen- 
eral Lord Stirling, which had been sent in advance to guard 
the river at Brunswick and the coast at Amboy against any 
unexpected incursion of the British. 

Shortly before this period Lieutenant-General Sir William 
Howe had succeeded General Gage in the command of all 
the forces of Great Britain in America, and had established 
his headquarters in New York. This command he contin- 
ued to hold until the spring of 1778, when he was succeeded 
by Sir Henry Clinton. General Howe was a poor com- 
mander for an army whose business it was to crq^h out 
rebellion. He was fond of taking his own ease, and given 
to postponing decisive action. The fascinations of gaming 
and the blandishments of beauty had more charms for him 
than the rough path of duty in a soldier's life. General Lee 
said of him, " He was the most indolent of mortals, and never 
took pains to examine the merits or demerits of the cause in 
which he was engaged." 

It has always seemed strange that General Howe did not 

1 We find the members of this detachment described in Captain 
Graydon's Memoirs as " old-fashioned men, apparently beyond the me- 
ridian of life. They were truly irregulars; and whether their cloathing, 
equipments or caparisons were regarded, it would have been difficult to 
have discovered any circumstance of uniformity. Instead of carbines 
and sabres, they generally carried fowling pieces ; some of them very 
long, and such as are used for shooting ducks. Their order of march 
corresponded with their other irregularities. It spindled into longitude 
immense. One of them, on being captured, told the British officers, 
who made themselves very merry at his expense and obliged him to 
amble about for their entertainment, that his duty in the army ' was to 
flank a little and carry tidings.' " 


intercept General Washington's retreat before he reached 
the Raritan River. A force sent from New York on the 
vessels of his brother, Lord Richard Howe, admiral of the 
British fleet, could have landed at South Amboy, marched 
along the Raritan River, and cut off the retreating army, 
which would have been crushed between the two British 


columns. That this was sugfErested in Ensflish war councils 
is evident, as Sir Henry Clinton insisted that the expedi- 
tion destined for Rhode Island should be " landed at Amboy 
to have co-operated with Lord Cornwallis or should be 
embarked on board Lord Howe's fleet and landed on the 
Delaware and taken possession of Philadelphia." General 
Washington's rapid movement from Newark to Brunswick 
certainly implied that he feared he might have an enemy in 
front as well as in the rear.^ 

' Major Stephen Kemble, deputy adjutant-general of General Howe, 


At Brunswick, in the very face of the enemy, then at 
Woodbridge and near to Amboy, the mihtia of the flying 
camps of Maryland and New Jersey, which had been enhsted 
only until the ist of December by virtue of an order to 
" reinforce the army at New York," and whose terms of ser- 
vice had now expired, demanded their discharge, notwith- 
standing the patriotic appeals of General Mercer, and almost 
to a man left for their homes. Desertions still continued, 
and to such a degree that it was found necessary to request 
Governor Livingston to post proper guards on the roads 
south of Trenton and at all the ferries across the Delaware 
River, to arrest all the soldiers without a regular discharge 
or pass, so that the Pennsylvania militia, which still had one 
month to serve, might not also escape over the river. 

As General Greene informed Governor Cooke of Rhode 
Island, the American army, at this time, did not number 
3000 efficient men. 

General Washington once more made an attempt to pro- 
cure reinforcements, "because," he said, "of the broken 
state of our troops, and that the enemy had changed their 
plan, and were rapidly advancing on the Delaware." He 
sent another messenger to Governor Livingston to urge the 
necessity for troops to drive out the invaders.^ 

makes this " Observation on the Conduct of Commanders in Chief of 
Armies," etc., in his journal: "After Fort Washington was taken why 
not send a detachment of the Army to Brunswick to cut off Mr. Wash- 
ington's Retreat, while Lord Cornwallis was pursuing him to Newark 
etc. ? General Clinton's Troops would have answered that purpose 
Efiectually." He also adds in the same strain : " Why not pursue Wash- 
ington from Brunswick with more Spirit? His Cannon and Baggage 
must have fallen into our hands. Provisions might have been sent to 
Brunswick for all these services by Water and no delay in the proceed- 
ings of the Troops." — N. Y. Hist. Soc. Collections., 1883, p. 104. 

1 William Livingston was the first governor of New Jersey under the 
Constitution, having been elected August 13, 1776. He was born in 
1723, and educated at Yale College. He was a lawyer by profession 
and also a writer of considerable talent. No one was more zealous 
than he in urging the colonies to separate from the mother country, 
and after the separation no one was more faithful in defending the 



It was impossible, liowever, for even so patriotic a gov- 
ernor to do much to aid tlie retreating army. The legisla- 
ture, on the first knowledge of the movements of the enemy, 
left Princeton for Trenton, and then removed to Burlineton 


Even there they did not remain long, but soon dispersed to 
their homes. 

To all these discouragements was added the fact that the 
Tories, of whom there were many in the State through which 
the army was retreating, spoke out openly in favor of the 


royal cause, and the Quakers, always friendly to peace, if 
not loyalists, were doing nothing to aid the cause of inde- 

Again General Lee was urged to hasten his column to the 
support of the commander-in-chief. Washington wrote him 

rights of New Jersey against all opposers. He was re-elected governor, 
annually, fourteen times, and died in office, July 25, rypo. 


from Brunswick, December i : " The force I have with me 
is infinitely inferior in numbers, and such as cannot give or 
promise the least successful opposition. I must entreat you 
to hasten your march as much as possible, or your arrival 
may be too late to answer any valuable purpose." ^ 

^ Ford's Writings of George Washington, vol. v. p. 62. 


As soon as Washington arrived at Brunswick he directed 
Colonel Richard Humpton, commanding the Eleventh Penn- 
sylvania regiment, Continental line, then organizing in that 
State, to collect all the boats on the Delaware River, and 
secure them on the west bank opposite Trenton. i 

He sent General William Maxwell to the Delaware River 
on the same mission. He also directed General Putnam to 
have rafts made from timber to be found at the ferry land- 
ing in that village. 

A semblance of preparation for resistance was made at 
Brunswick to deceive the enemy's pickets, and thus gain 
time. But on Sunday afternoon, December i, on the ap- 
proach of the British column to the bridge across the Raritan 
River and the banks along its fordable parts, the little army 
of Americans partially destroyed the bridge, and retired 
toward Princeton under cover of a brisk fire from Captain 
Alexander Hamilton's battery.^ 

Washington entered Princeton between eight and nine 
o'clock on the morning of December 2, wrote a letter to the 
President of Congress, and, tradition says, partook of break- 
fast at the residence of Quartermaster Robert Stockton, 
still standing, on Constitution Hill, and with the main body 
of the army pushed on immediately to Trenton, which he 
reached before noon.^ In Trenton he learned that Lord 

^ Part ii. No. 2. 

2 It is said of Hamilton's battery that "it was a model of discipline; 
its captain a mere boy, with small, slender, and delicate frame, who 
with cocked hat pulled down over his eyes, and apparently lost in 
thought, marched beside a cannon, patting it every now and then as if 
it were a favorite horse or pet plaything." 

" Ford's Writings of George Washington, vol. v. p. 63. 


Cornwallis had halted his column near Brunswick. It ap- 
pears that orders had been received from General Howe to 
go no farther than Brunswick ; but Cornwallis, thinking 
that he could virtually annihilate the fragment of an army in 


front of him by a sharp pursuit, sent a message to Howe for 
])ermission to attack the Americans before they could cross 
the ri\'er. Howe's inertness undoubtedly saved the patriot 
army, for his answer to Cornwallis was that he "would join 
him immediately ; " but he did not do so before December 6. 
He brought with him the fourth brigade, Major-General 
Tames Grant commandins:. In this brifjade was a stronff 
contingent of Hessians, commanded by Colonel Rail. Evi- 
dently Howe's plan was to obtain a foothold in the State, 
place a large body of troops in winter quarters, with a fine 



opportunity of procuring provisions for his men and for his 
horses, and then await the opening of the following spring 
for active operations. 

As soon as he found the British army had halted, Wash- 
ington ordered two brigades, consisting of five regiments 
from Virginia and the Delaware regiment, in all about 1400 
men, under command of Brigadier-General Lord Stirling, 
senior officer, and Brigadier-General Adam Stephen, to re- 
main near Princeton, observe the enemy's movements, and 
cover the passage of stores and baggage over the Delaware 

On December 6 Major-General Greene returned to Prince- 
ton with an additional force of 1200 men, and assumed com- 
mand there ; soon after, the entire American army was 
concentrated at Trenton. 

The king's troops, with General Howe in supreme com- 


mand, left Brunswick at four o'clock on the morning of 
December 7 in two columns, one corps commanded by f^ord 
Cornwallis and the other by Colonel von Dono]3. The 
advance guard of the left column entered Princeton the same 


afternoon, but the right column did not reach there until 
some hours after dark. Lord Cornwallis took immediate 
possession of the college buildings and the Presbyterian 
church. The British army held the village of Princeton for 
nearly a month, during which time they pillaged the houses 
of the principal patriots. "Tusculum," the residence of the 
Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon, president of the college, was 
stripped, and "Morven," the home of the Hon. Richard 
Stockton, who, as well as Dr. Witherspoon, had signed the 
Declaration of Independence, was denuded of its library and 
furniture. The residence of Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant, 
now the Miller property, was burned by the soldiery. 

General Washington finished his masterly retreat through 
New Jersey with scarcely the los'fe of a single life, and 
reached the banks of the Delaware River with his bare- 
footed and almost naked army. It was a march of hardly 
one hundred miles, and yet Washington had prolonged to a 
journey of nearly three weeks what might have been ac- 
complished in four days, had Lord Cornwallis pressed him 
closely. As Washington said, "Nothing but the infatuation 
of the enemy " saved them.^ 

During the retreat but few recruits joined the American 
army, though at Trenton a small detachment of the New 
Jersey militia, belonging to the First regiment, Hunterdon 
brigade. Colonel Isaac Smith, and part of the Second regi- 
ment, Middlesex brigade. Colonel John Neilson, volunteered 
to assist the forlorn cause.^ 

1 Thomas Paine, who was with the army on this march, says : " With 
a handful of men we sustained an orderly retreat for nearly a hundred 
miles, brought off our ammunition, all our fieldpieces, the greatest part 
of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. None can say that our 
retreat was precipitate, for we were three weeks in performing it, that 
the country might have time to come. Twice we marched back to 
meet the enemy and remained out until dark." 

2 Captain Johann Ewald of the German yagers refers to these troops 
in his notes on the war in this language : " The irregular militia of this 
province were brave during the whole war ; they performed all the 
service that could be expected of them on every occasion, and although 





The Continental Congress sent to Trenton a German bat- 
talion, raised in Pennsylvania and Maryland, and commanded 
by Colonel Nicholas Hansseger. As a first response to the 
appeals of General Mifflin, Philadelphia sent three battalions 
of " Associators " under Colonel John Cadwalader, Captain 
Samuel Morris's troop of light horse, and Captain Thomas 
Forrest's battery of artillery — in all about one thousand 

General Washington determined to remain in Trenton as 

often greatly assisted by the regular troops, they were willing to sac- 
rifice themselves at their own hearthstones." 

1 The militia of the citv of Philadelphia and liberties enrolled as 
Associates — for thev had associated together to " defend with arms, 
their property, liberty and lives" — were called out for review Novem- 
ber 26, when General Mifflin addressed them in an eloquent manner, as- 
serting that Howe's army contemplated the invasion of their State. He 
appealed to them to march out in defense of their commonwealth and 
the cause of freedom. Congress also requested them to march into 
New Jersey. Another review took place November 28, and soon after, 
by detachments and companies, the city battalions proceeded to Tren- 
ton, as stated. They agreed to remain in service six weeks, unless 
sooner discharged. On December 12 the Assembly offered a bounty 


long as possible. Boats were still being gathered, military 
stores were being transported to the west of the Delaware 
River, and the sick and disabled men sent to Philadelphia, 
The Durham boats, much used at that time for carrying 
fresh provisions to different points on the river, and which 
held what was then a full regiment of men, were now put 
into immediate use. 

Strange indeed does it appear that Cornwallis, with his 
large and well-equipped force, did not crush out with one 
blow this apology of an army, composed, as it was, of men 
despondent, and many of them eager to seek safety in flight. 
The debates in the English Parliament show us that Lord 
Cornwallis was once interrogated as to the reason the pur- 
suit was not made with greater rapidity. To save the re- 
putation of General Howe, perhaps, he could only give this 
rather evasive reply : " We wanted reinforcements in order 
to leave troops for the communication between Brunswick 
and Amboy. It was likewise necessary to pay some atten- 
tion to a considerable body then passing the North River 
under General Lee." 

In his examination Lord Cornwallis further said, as an 
excuse for his own slow movements : " I am free to say that 
I could not have pursued the enemy from Brunswick with 
any prospect of material advantage or without distressing 
the troops under my command. We arrived at Brunswick 
the night of the ist of December. We had marched that 
day twenty miles, through exceeding bad roads. We sub- 
sisted only on the flour we found in the country ; and as the 
troops had been constantly marching ever since their first 
entrance into the Jerseys, they had no time to bake their 
flour ; the artillery horses and baggage horses of the army 
were quite tired ; that sufificiently proves that we were not 
in a good condition to undertake a long march. The bridge 
over the Raritan was broken, which caused a necessary delay 

of ten dollars to all volunteers who should join General Washington 
on or before the 20th of the month, and seven dollars and five dollars, 
respectively, for all joining before the 25th or 30th of the month. 


of one day. If the enemy could not have passed at Tren- 
ton, they might have marched down the east side of the 
Delaware." ^ 

The condition of the State of New Jersey during the pas- 
sage of these hostile armies across its territory was most 
deplorable. Situated between two large and powerful States, 


close to two great cities, one under British rule and the 
other the objective point of the march of the English army, 

1 Lieutenant-General Charles Cornwallis was the son of the first Earl 
CornwaUis. He commenced military studies early in life, was made 
colonel of the Thirty-third foot August 2, 1765, major-general September 
29, 1775, and January I, 1776, received the local rank in America of 
lieutenant-general. He was considered the most able and reliable of 
all the English commanders during the war, but his reputation was 
greatly stained by the many cruelties afterward inflicted in the South- 
ern Department by his e.xpress orders. 


the people living on the highway between these centres 
of interest had to undergo all the sufferings which follow 
in the track of war. Their farms were devastated, their 
houses ransacked, their barns consumed, their money and 
valuables stolen, their cattle and horses, their forage, crops 
and merchandise carried off, their bridges and their churches 
damaged and despoiled. Society was thoroughly disorgan- 
ized, quarrels were engendered, families were subject to 
every indignity or else were obliged to flee for their lives. 
The wanton destruction of private property by Howe's army 
fully accounts for its slow movements across the State.^ An 
old Quaker who had been thoroughly robbed by the foreign 
soldiery expressed his opinion of them in emphatic language 
when he said : " Well, God made these men, though I am 
sure the devil governs them." 

The State was virtually in the possession of the enemy, 
and nothing was wanting but freezing weather to bridge the 
Delaware River, so that the foe might pass direct to the city 
where the Continental Congress was in session. The national 
treasury was known to be well-nigh bankrupt, and all the 
power of Congress could not keep up the credit of the gov- 
ernment and provide for the relief and strengthening of the 
army. Symptoms of general distrust in the power of Con- 
gress and the efficiency of the army seemed widespread and 

As soon as the British army entered the State, General 
Howe and his brother. Admiral Howe, by instruction of their 
government, issued a proclamation, dated November 30, 
directing all men in arms against his majesty's authority to 
return to their homes. At the same time they tendered a 
free and general pardon, and a secure enjoyment of their 
liberties and properties, to all who would, within sixty days, 
renounce the cause of independence, claim the benefits of 
this offer, and declare their full loyalty to the crown, and 
their obedience to the laws, by subscribing a declaration of 

1 This delay of Howe's army is more fully explained in the History 
of Paterson, New Jersey, by William Nelson, vol. i. pp. 415, 416. 



this submission to the constitutional authority and suprem- 
acy of Great Britain. ^ This document was scattered broad- 
cast over the State, and increased, if possible, the fears of 
the patriots. There were many who thought this an easy 

ADAIIKAl. KlCllAlcli HdWH 

method of sa\ing themseh-es and securing their property 
from molestation, and these flocked in great numbers to 
make their submission. It is said that twent)'-se\'en hundred 
citizens of New Jersey took protection in this way. Lord 
Cornwallis stated that "three or four hundred came in e\-ery 
day for ten days to take protection." When asked to aid in 

' Part ii. No. 3. 


driving out the foe they said, "General Howe promises 
peace, hberty and safety — more than this we could not 
desire." But the Reverend James Caldwell (afterward the 
patriot martyr) wrote to General Washington : " General 
Howe gives sixty days of grace and pardons from the Con- 
o-ress down to the committee. No one man in the Con- 


tinent is to be denied his mercy. The Lord deliver us from 
his mercy." 

The timid, the distrustful, the sycophantic, in this dark 
hour cjuietly entered the liritish lines and craved protection. 
They apologized to their more patriotic neighbors and the 
reproof of their own consciences by saying they did not be- 
lieve in war ; that they opposed rebellion ; that all wrongs 
should be constitutionally righted, and that acts of Congress, 

■^c^,.^»^^ M ^.._i^ .. , ■ ^a/i' 


Original lu possession of Author 

recently adopted, especially that of the Declarati(jn of Inde- 
pendence from the mother country, were too hastily drawn 
and voted on before the delegates properly understood the 
views of their constituents. They thought the army thor- 
oughly routed, the cause virtually abandoned, and that their 
clear duty was to insure the protection and safety of thcjse 
dependent upon them. 

However, the Hessian soldiery had little regard for these 
protection papers, which they would not read and did not care 
to understand. They looked upon everything in an enemy's 
country as free for them to enjoy. The British soldiers, too, 


thought the plundering of the people a fair game, and they 
did not relish the idea of the German troops taking all the 
spoils. Therefore both acted regardless of "safeguards," 
and shamefully violated the pledged faith, attacking friend 
and foe, irrespective of age or sex. Their brutal passions, 
uncontrolled by any order of their superior officers, urged 
them to commit acts of rapine that were both distressing and 

In reference to the brutal conduct of the British troops 
and the Hessian mercenaries. Governor Livingston, in his 
message to the Council and General Assembly of New Jer- 
sey, February 25, 1777, made the following forcible state- 
ment : " The rapacity of the enemy was boundless, their rapine 
indiscriminate, and their barbarity unparalleled. They have 
plundered friends and foes. Effects capable of division they 
have divided ; such as were not they have destroyed. They 
have warred upon decrepit age ; warred upon defenseless 
youth. They have committed hostilities against the pro- 
fessors of literature and the ministers of religion ; against 
public records and private monuments ; against books of im- 
provement and papers of curiosity ; and against the arts 

1 This is frankly admitted under date of November 24, 1776, in the 
journal of Major Stephen Kemble, deputy adjutant-general of General 
Howe, wherein he says : " His lordship will not be able to restrain the 
troops from plundering the country; their excess in that respect is 
carried to a most unjustifiable length." Dunlap, in his History of the 
American Theatre, thus describes the conduct of the British soldiery 
at Piscataway in the march through New Jersey: " I saw the soldiers 
plundering the houses, the women of the village trembling and weeping 
or flying with their children ; the men had retired to await the day of 
retribution. In many houses helpless old men or widowed females 
anxiously awaited the soldiers of monarchy. A scene of promiscuous 
pillage was in full operation. Here a soldier was seen issuing from a 
house armed with a frying-pan and gridiron, and hastening to deposit 
them with the stove over which his helpmate kept watch. The wo- 
men who had followed the army assisted their husbands in bringing 
the furniture from the houses, or stood sentinels to guard the pile of 
kitchen utensils or other articles already secured and claimed by right 
of war." 


and sciences. They have butchered the wounded asking 
for quarter ; mangled the dying weltering in their blood ; 
refused the dead the rights of sepulchre ; suffered prisoners 
to perish for want of sustenance ; violated the chastity of 
women ; disfigured private dwellings of taste and elegance ; 
and in the rage of impiety and barbarism profaned edifices 
dedicated to Almighty God." 

Sir Henry Clinton afterward severely criticised the course 
of the English army in plundering the people of New Jersey, 
many of whom, as is well known, were kindly disposed toward 
them, and some of whom had renewed their allegiance to the 
crown. These are his words : " Unless we would refrain 
from plundering we had no business to take up winter quar- 
ters in a district we wished to preserve loyal. The Hessians 
introduced it." 


To return to the little army at Trenton. During the 
night of December 6, or early in the morning of December 
7, General Washington set out with a small body of men on 
the road toward Maidenhead, now Lawrenceville, and Prince- 
ton. He had not marched far before he came up with Gen- 
eral Greene's command on the retreat to Trenton, the First 
Maryland regiment and the Delaware regiment covering the 
rear of the column. The British army, after nearly twenty 
hours' rest in Princeton, commenced the march toward the 
river by different roads, hoping to intercept or get in the 
rear of the patriot lines, in some place, and so prevent any 
attempt to cross. At Stony Brook the column was obliged 
to halt and repair the bridge over that stream, which had 
been broken down by the Americans in their retreat, and it 
was not until nine o'clock on the morning of December 8 
that it was rendered fit for the passage of artillery. 

General Washington was privately censured, even by his 
own officers, for risking his army, by keeping them on the 
Jersey side of the river, and delaying the crossing until the 
royal forces threatened their entire capture by a single forced 
movement. Colonel George Weedon of the Third Virginia 
Continental regiment, keenly alive to the danger of the situa- 
tion, wrote a friend at Fredericksburg, Virginia, that " Gen- 
eral Howe had a mortgage on the rebel army for some time, 
but had not yet foreclosed it." 

Boats which had been used for conveying the military 
stores having been placed in readiness on the bank of the 
river near the village of Trenton, the passage of the troops 
commenced at Beatty's and Trenton ferries, just above 
and below the falls. During the afternoon of December 7, 
and up to daylight of Sunday, December 8, the boats were 


constantly passing back and forth. Lieutenant-Colonel 
David Henley, acting as deputy adjutant-general on General 
Washington's staff, superintended the transfer of the troops 
to the Pennsylvania side of the river, and was with the rear- 
guard as the army passed over. 

Scarcely had the last of the Americans crossed in safety 
when the British fourth brigade, two battalions of light 
infantry, three battalions of Hessian grenadiers, and the 
reserves, the advance of the royal army, entered Trenton 
with music and much display. ■ The Hessian battalions, 
under command of Colonel von Donop, came into the town 
about eleven o'clock in the morning of December 8, and as 
they marched down to the river bank they were greeted 
with a shower of grapeshot from the western shore. 

Having tarried in Princeton for nearly an entire day, the 
British army had then taken fully twice the necessary time 
to reach Trenton. Their action, in this respect, was a 
source of considerable satisfaction to General Washington. 

Another division of the corps of Lord Cornwallis, and 
under his immediate command, halted for the night at Maid- 
enhead, about six miles from Trenton, preferring to wait 
until morning before entering the town. But at one o'clock 
in the morning of December 9 he was ordered to take a 
strong detachment, consisting of two battalions of British 
grenadiers, three battalions of British light infantry, the 
Forty-second British regiment, and two battalions of British 
foot, and cross the river about two miles south of Coryell's 
Ferry, or twelve miles above Trenton, capture the boats 
there collected, and then attempt to carry over the whole 
army. He failed, however, to find the means to get his de- 
tachment over the river, and like the Hessians at Trenton, 
was greeted with shot from the opposite bank. Every boat 
which could be pressed into service had been brought to the 
Pennsylvania shore and fastened ; and to secure their further 
safety. General Lord Stirling had placed a strong guard over 
them. Even a large Durham boat, which had been sunk 
in the river a few days before, had fortunately been raised 



and taken away. After reconnoitring the shore for a long 
time, and finding no possible means of crossing, the British 
returned to their posts, halting, however, by order, at the 
village of Pennington. General Howe's adjutant, Captain 
Frederick Ernst von MUnchhausen, of the regiment Land- 
graff, had been very zealous in his search for boats and in 
his desire to place his Hessian brethren across the river. 

In this manner General Howe's pursuit of the Americans 
was suddenly checked on the river bank. The game had 
been almost within his grasp, yet it had eluded him. Sted- 
man, the historian, says of the movements of the British 
army at this time, that it looked as though " Howe had cal- 
culated with the greatest accuracy the exact time necessary 
for his enemy to make his escape." 

A detachment of the British was also ordered down the 


river to Bordentown, and this movement gave the American 
spies the impression that Howe's intention was to cross in 
two columns, above and below Trenton, and so surround the 
patriot army. But this party also was baffled, and nothing 
could now be done by the British but wait the forming of ice 


Strong enough to admit of their passing over the Delaware 
River, the procuring of boats from the Raritan River, or the 
building of flat-bottomed boats at Trenton. 

On the morning of December 9 the remnant of the Amer- 
ican army was divided into parties of observation, guards 
and patrols, to prevent as far as possible any attempt at 
crossing the river. Small earthworks were thrown up where 
a passage might be attempted, opposite the ferries known 
as Sherwood's, Coryell's, McKonkey's, Yardley's, Howell's, 
Kirkbride's, Beatty's, and Trenton. From Coryell's Ferry 
to Yardley's Ferry four brigades of Continental troops were 
stationed. These brigades were commanded by Generals 
Stirling, Stephen, Mercer and De Fermoy. The Pennsyl- 
vania militia belonging to the flying camp, with a small 
body of New Jersey militia, protected the shore from Yard- 
ley's Ferry to the ferry opposite Bordentown. At first the 
Philadelphia battalions of Associators were also stationed 
just below Trenton Ferry, and there they' began to build 
themselves rude huts for shelter from the inclement weather. 
These were nearly completed, when, on December 11, the 
third battalion was ordered to Dunk's Ferry, below Bristol, 
and the next day it was joined by the entire brigade. ^ 

The commissary and quartermaster's departments of the 
army were established at Newtown, in Bucks County. This 
village, about eight miles from the river, was a central point 
for supplies for both wings of the army. After crossing 
the river on December 8, Washington spent the night at 
the summer residence of Thomas Barclay, about half a 
mile back from the shore at Trenton Ferry, now Morris- 

' For the orders in these cases see Part ii. No. 2. 

^ Washington calls this house " Mr. Berkeley's.'' It is still called 
" Summer Seat," and is owned by the estate of John H. Osborne. (See 
sketch of Thomas Barclay, p. 61, Baker's Itinerary of George Wash- 
ington.) The commander-in-chief probably remained there several 
days, dating all his letters at " Headquarters, Trenton Falls." He ap- 
pears to have changed his quarters on December 14 to the farmhouse of 
'William Keith, in Upper Makefield Township. This dwelling was at 




On the evening of the loth day of December Commodore 
Thomas Seymour was directed by General Washington to 
place the galleys under his command on the river between 
Bordentown and Philadelphia, so that he could furnish im- 
mediate information of the appearance of the enemy on the 
New Jersey shore, or of any preparation they might make to 
effect a crossing. He had command of all the vessels, gon- 
dolas and row-galleys above the chevaux-de-frise at Billings- 
port. It was expected that a portion of this naval force would 

Knowles's Creek, about a mile and a half from the mouth of the creek 
and about four miles north of Newtown. The stone house, which still 
stands, was built in 1763, and is on the road from Brownsburg to the 
Eagle Tavern, and on the south side of Jericho Hill. General G.reene 
quartered in Samuel Merrick's house. General Sullivan in John Hav- 
hurst's house; General Lord Stirling at Robert Thorap.son's, the 
miller, at Beaumonts, often called " Blue Mounts '' in dispatches, near 
Brownsburg, and Colonel Knox in Dr. Chapman's house, now owned 
by Edward Johnson. All of these dwellings were near Jericho Hill, an 
excellent place to obtain a view of the surrounding country. General 
De Fermov with his brigade was at Coryell's Ferry, at what is now 
called New Hope. General Lord Stirling's and General De Fermov's 
brigades built themselves wooden sheds as barracks. — History of 
Bucks Coiintv, Pcnn., by Gen. William W. H. Davis. 


aid materially in preventing the British from crossing at 
Cooper's Creek, opposite Philadelphia, or even lower down 
on the Jersey shore. The gondolas, armed with small ship- 
guns, cruised up as far as the " Falls " at Trenton, watching 
the enemy, and keeping in check the Tories, who were eager 
to obtain information for the English officers. These sailors 
and marines also kept strict control of the little village of 
Burlington, and often sent parties off from the galleys to 
search for those unfriendly to the cause of independence. 

Adjutant-General Reed, who had been trying to hasten 
reinforcements from New Jersey for the army, joined his 
chief at Trenton, and on December 8 again left the army 
with a letter for the Continental Congress. In this commu- 
nication the commander-in-chief urgently stated that there 
was " not a moment's time to be lost in assembling such force 
as can be collected." In addition to this appeal, he made 
every effort in his power to strengthen the army. Brigadier- 
General William Smallwood, who was unfit for field service 
on account of wounds received at the battle of White Plains, 
was sent in all haste to Maryland and Delaware to beg them 
to forward militia as rapidly as possible. Brigadier-General 
John Armstrong, of Cumberland County, was also detached 
from his command, and sent into those counties of Pennsyl- 
vania where it was thought he could most effectually arouse 
the people. 

The preservation of Philadelphia was now the desire of 
every patriot. Washington bestowed much thought upon 
this subject, and, having placed Major-General Israel Putnam 
in command of the city, directed him to defend it at all 
hazards. Lines of defense were then planned from the river 
Schuylkill, covering the high ground around Germantown in 
an easterly direction to the Delaware River.i 

General Mifflin, having returned from his mission, was 
then at the general headquarters, and was ordered back to 

1 On December 9 Washington suggested to Congress a French en- 
gineer of eminence, Colonel Thaddeus Kosciuszko, as the proper officer 
to take charge of this work. 



Philadelphia to take charge of the supplies and camp equi- 
page which had been collected there. 

On the loth of December Congress resolved to defend 
the federal capital with all the force which could be mus- 
tered. They commenced earnestly to work on a plan pro- 
posed by the commander-in-chief for the reorganization of 
the army. Up to this time the militia had been called out 
by classes, some for but one month, and state troops had 
been called for sixty days or four months. These short 
terms of service did much to impair the practical efficiency 


of the force. No sooner was a man well drilled as a soldier, 
than he was ready for discharge. Congress for the first time 
offered bounties to men who would enlist in the eighty bat- 
talions of Continental troops which it had directed to be 
raised, and agreed to borrow live million dollars for the pur- 
pose. About this time an appeal was made by Washington 
to Congress not to wait to fill up the old regiments, but to 
increase the number of new organizations enlisted for the 


war. He thought that every new officer would draw around 
him an additional number of new men to be trained for the 
next campaign. Although this method might involve con- 
siderable expense, and it seemed to some members of Con- 
gress a dangerous precedent, yet " desperate diseases require 
desperate remedies." ^ 

Congress also gave power to Major-General Israel Putnam 
to assume absolute control of the city of Philadelphia. This 
brave old officer, blunt and unpolished, was yet true to his 
country's cause. Endowed with a cool, clear head and a de- 
termined will, he was the very man to govern the alarmed 
and almost disaffected city. 

The state of affairs in Philadelphia at this time is best 
shown by Putnam's order, that all the inhabitants of the city 
who appeared in the streets after ten o'clock at night should 
be arrested and confined. His order of December 13 well 
describes the confusion and alarm which reigned in that city 
during this dark hour of our country's history.^ 

1 To quote at length the picture which General Washington gives of 
the situation : " The enemy are daily gathering strength from the dis- 
affected. This strength, like a snowball, by rolling will increase, unless 
some means can be devised to check effectually the progress of the 
enemy's arms. Militia may possibly do it for a little while ; but in a 
little while, also, the militia of those states which have been frequently 
called upon will not turn out at all ; or, if they do, it will be with so 
much reluctance and sloth as to amount to the same thing : — Instance, 
New Jersey: — Witness, Pennsylvania ! Could anything but the river 
Delaware have saved Philadelphia ? Can anything (the exigency of 
the case indeed may justify it) be more destructive to the recruiting 
service, than giving ten dollars bounty for six weeks' service of the 
militia, who come in you cannot tell how, go you cannot tell when ; 
consume your provisions, exhaust your stores, and leave you at last at 
a critical moment ? " — Ford's Writings of George Washington, vol. v. 
p. 112. 

2 " The general has been informed that some weak or wicked men 
have mahciously reported that it is the design and wish of the ofiScers 
and men in the Continental army to burn and destroy the city of Phila- 
delphia. To counteract such a false and scandalous report, he thinks 
it necessary to inform the inhabitants who propose to remain in the city, 
that he has received positive orders from the Honorable Continental 



On December 1 1 Congress passed a resolutiun denoun- 
cing as false the rumor that they intended to leave Philadel- 
phia, and asked General Washington to publish the same in 
orders to his army. This he declined to do, in a letter dated 



the following day ; ^ and on December 13, forgetful of their 
solemn and indignant resolve, they made the city gossip a 

Congress and from his excellency General Washington, to secure and 
protect the city of Philadelphia against all invaders and enemies. The 
general will consider every attempt to burn the city of Philadelphia as 
a crime of the blackest dye, and will, without ceremony, punisli capi- 
tally any incendiary who shall have the hardiness and cruelty to 
attempt it." 

1 Ford's JVriiings of George Washington, vol. v. p. 82. 


reality. Under the advice of Generals Putnam and Mifflin, 
Congress fled to Baltimore, leaving Robert Morris, George 
Walton, and George Clymer, of their own body, to act for 
them in Philadelphia. Oliver Wolcott, delegate in Congress 
for Connecticut, wrote : "It was judged that the Council of 
America ought not to sit in a place liable to be interrupted 
by the rude disorder of arms." This unwise proceeding 
increased the alarm in the city, and it was only by the 
watchfulness of the resolute Putnam that he was able to 
keep the loyahsts from making a serious outbreak. The 
effect was also felt in the camps on the Delaware. Captain 
Samuel C. Morris of the Philadelphia Associators wrote to 
his friends : " It has struck a damp on ye spirits of many." 


Let us now return to the king's troops, which we left 
vainly trying to cross the Delaware River on December 8. 
Every effort to procure boats had failed, and no attempt was 
made to build new ones. The capital city of the young 
republic was a prize worth a supreme effort, and the British 
soldiers were certainly competent to build bateaux and rafts. 
A hundred wooden houses in the village would have given 
them the material, if nothing else was at hand ; and John 
Rickey's hardware store and the blacksmith shops of Joseph 
and Samuel Lanning, Joshua Newbold and Hezekiah How- 
ell would have afforded them all the nails and iron necessary. 
But the same lack of enterprise which General Howe exhib- 
ited when' he allowed the escape from Long Island, and the 
halts at Brunswick and at Princeton, was repeated at Tren- 
ton, and gave the Americans the opportunity. 

Joseph Galloway, a Tory, who appears to have spent a few 
days about this time at the house of Major John Barnes, on 
Queen street, near the Assunpink Creek, in Trenton, said, 
when examined before the House of Commons by Lord Ger- 
main and others on June i8, 1779: "At Captain Montres- 
sor's request, I did inquire whether there were any materials 
in or about Trenton with which pontoons, boats, or rafts 
might be constructed ; and I found 48,000 feet of boards, a 
quantity of wire, and there was timber enough about Tren- 
ton for that purpose. No boats were brought from the 
Raritan River, as the Americans feared and anticipated. 
Nor does it appear that the work of building boats or rafts 
was ever begun." ^ 

1 The Abb^ Raynal, in his History of the Revolution of America., 
truthfully remarks in reference to the proper conduct of the British at 
this time : " Without losing a moment, the king's troops ought to have 


But General Howe was proud of the manner in which he 
had driven the rebels out of the State. 

His dispatches show that it was no part of his plan in this 
campaign to cross the Delaware River. He seems to have 
concluded that- he had had enough glory for this year, and, 
" the weather having become too severe to keep the field," 
he had thought it better to spread a portion of the royal 
army over the State, and thus occupy the territory so easily 
conquered. As citizens and soldiers he regarded the colo- 
nists with the utmost contempt, and by billeting his troops 
upon the people he thought to stop all efforts to obtain re- 
cruits in New Jersey for the new army of next year. In 
this way, unless ice formed on the river, he proposed, to 
remain in winter quarters until the opening of a new season, 
and then commence an active and final campaign. 

General Howe ordered that a number of cantonments in 
New Jersey be formed immediately in the counties of Essex, 
Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Burlington. General 
Cornwallis rashly arranged a thin line of military posts at 
Elizabeth Town, Brunswick, Princeton, Trenton and Bor- 
dentown, the last two composed principally of Hessian 
troops. These stations, however, were too far apart to sup- 
port one another effectually in case of attack. Howe says : 
" My first intentions were to have made Brunswick the left 
and Elizabeth Town or Newark the right of these canton- 
ments ; and my reason for extending to Trenton was that a 
considerable number of inhabitants came in with their arms 
in obedience to the proclamation of commissioners on 30th 
of November." 

The frontier posts, then in the very face of the American 

passed the river in pursuit of the handful of fugitives, and have put 
them totally to the rout. If the five thousand men, destined for the 
conquest of Rhode Island, had gone up the river in the transports they 
were aboard of, the junction of the two corps might have been effected 
without opposition even in Philadelphia itself, and the new republic 
had been stifled in that important and celebrated city which gave it 


army, were garrisoned by German officers and soldiers, who 
were ignorant of the character and language of the people, 
and who could not therefore judge rightly of any information 
brought them. It seems strange that a part of the Hessian 
contingent should have been given so important a position. 
The only reason is that these troops were placed by order 
on the left of the column, and thus the duty fell to them to 
hold the left of the chain of cantonments. To substitute 
other troops might, as General Howe said, "have created 
jealousies between the Hessian and British troops, which it 
was my duty carefully to prevent." 

These Hessian soldiers, whose services had been pur- 
chased, who were fighting for hire, were uncouth in manners, 
low in morals, but well trained in military duties, and familiar 
with war and violence. They cared little on which side their 
services were rendered. 

But to maintain her authority in the colonies, England 
had either to send new levies of her own soldiers, distasteful 
though the war might be to them, or purchase the brains 
and courage of some other nation. She found a market 
among the petty princes of Germany, where the articles were 
obtain able for thirty crowns banco, equal to jE,"] 4s. 4-|d. for 
each soldier. Negotiations were commenced with Fred- 
erick II., Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel ; Frederick, Prince of 
Waldeck ; Charles I., Duke of Brunswick ; William, Count 
of Hesse-Hanau ; Frederick Augustus, Prince of Anhalt- 
Zerbst, and Charles Alexander, Margrave of Anspach-Bey- 
reuth ; and from these potentates England received nearly 
30,000 men, with which she proposed to conquer Amer- 
icans struggling for independence. Before the troops 
were sent the agreement was confirmed with the minister 
of Brunswick that three wounded men should count as one 
dead man, and that every man killed must be paid for as 
one newly mustered. Lord Mahon, in his "History of 
England," says Frederick the Great was so disgusted with 
what he called "scandalous man-traffic," that, whenever 
the Hessians passed through his dominions, he claimed the 


same toll per head as for cattle ; for he contended they 
had been sold "as one sells cattle to be dragged to the 
shambles." ^ 

Before the first division of these Hessians had reached 
the shores of America, the Continental Congress had pro- 
mulgated this announcement concerning them in the Decla- 
ration of Independence : " He is, at this time, transporting 
large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works 
of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun, with circum- 
stances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most 
barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized 

At Trenton were stationed three regiments of Hessian 
infantry, a detachment of artillery, fifty Hessian yagers, and 
twenty light dragoons of the Sixteenth British regiment, — 
in all about 1400 men in and around the town. This force 

' Lord Camden said in the Britisli House of Lords, March 15, 1776: 
" Is there one of your lordships who does not perceive most clearly that 
the whole is a mere mercenary bargain for the hire of troops on the one 
side and the sale of human blood on the other ; and that the devoted 
wretches thus purchased for slaughter are mere mercenaries in the 
worst sense of the word?" To increase their coffers, filled now "with 
blood and tears," and to enable them with more splendor to support 
the coarse luxuries of a sensual court, these petty princes kidnapped 
their poor subjects in the fields, in their shops, and even in their 
churches, and forced them into the conscription. Yet the slaves of 
these despots are the men whom we find throughout the war fighting 
for the British crown, and dying as Colonel von Donop said he died, — 
" a victim of my ambition and the avarice of my sovereign." — Parlia- 
mentary History of England, vol. xviii., London, 1813. 

^ The dress of the Hessian soldier is carefully described in Dunlap's 
History of the American Theatre: "A towering brass-fronted cap; 
moustaches colored with the same material that colored his shoes, his 
hair plastered with tallow and flour, and tightly drawn into a long 
appendage reaching from the back of the head to his waist ; his blue 
uniform almost covered by the broad belts sustaining his cartouch box, 
his brass-hilted sword, and his bayonet; a yellow waistcoat with flaps, 
and yellow breeches, were met at the knee by black gaiters ; and thus 
heavily equipped he stood an automaton, and received the command or 
cane of the officer who inspected him." 



was under the command 
of Colonel Johann Gott- 
lieb Rail/ as senior offi- 
cer of the brigade, who 
was given the command 
of the post in return for 
his gallant conduct at the 
battle of White Plains 
and at the assault on 
Fort Washington. The 
three regiments of infan- 
try, one of them having 
six grenadier companies, 
the other consisting of 
five fusilier companies 
and one grenadier com- 
pany each, were those 
designated Rail, von 
Knyphausen, and von 
Lossberg. The first two 
regiments came down 
with the main army and 
went into quarters at 

Trenton December 12 ; but the von Lossberg regiment was 
detained at Newark, then at Brunswick, where it was relieved 
by the Waldeck regiment, and again detained at Princeton, 
so it was unable to join the brigade at Trenton until the 


1 The name of Colonel Rail has been given by various historians in 
many different forms. General Washington always wrote it Tft?///. John 
I\Iarshall, in his Life of ll'as/iington, spells the name Rawle. Jared 
Sparks and Dr. David Ramsey give us Rahl. Sergeant R. Lamb, in 
his book of Occiirrenccs during the War, and Mrs. Mercy Warren say 
Rhal. Captain Hall of the Forty-sixth regiment of British foot, in his 
History of the Civil War in America, writes Railcj and General Sir 
William Howe, Raille; the Rev. Dr. William Gordon speaks of him 
as Roll; Charles Botta refers to him as Ralle ; and Charles Stedman, 
the British military writer, alludes to the Hessian soldier as Rhalle. 
His own autograph shows that he wrote his name Rail. See p. 24. 


morning of December 14, when Colonel Rail established 
his headquarters in that village. 

It was General Howe's plan to make Trenton one of the 
military posts, and not to dignify it by the name of a " head- 
quarters," or put so large a force in the village, but these 
men had been promised good winter quarters, and even Tren- 
ton did not satisfy them, When Major von Hanstein came 
into Trenton with his tired men, in the scanty uniform of 
the von Lossberg regiment, he asked Colonel Rail if these 
were the "good quarters" which had been promised them. 
Rail replied, " No, but we will have them soon in Philadel- 
phia." To increase the honors and influence of Colonel Rail, 
General Howe ordered him to open a headquarters in this 
important town. 

It may be noted, when referring to the names by which 
these regiments were called, that it was the custom, at that 
time, in the English and German armies, as well as among 
the troops of the Landgrave of Hesse, to call an organization 
of this character by the name of its commanding officer, or 
by the name of a general or a prince. This they continued 
to do for years after the colonel had been promoted to a 
generalship, or the prince or the general had died. The 
custom still prevails at the present day in the army of Great 
Britain, as well as in the battalions of the German Empire.^ 

The original strength of each of the Hessian regiments 
sent' to America was 21 officers, 60 sergeants, 5 surgeons, 
22 musicians, and 525 rank and file. 

It was determined that a post of about 1500 men should 
be organized at Bordentown, six miles below Trenton. Two 
hours before daylight on the nth of December, Colonel von 
Donop left Trenton with several officers and a detachment 
of four or five hundred troops, passed over the drawbridge 
at Crosswicks Creek, and proceeded to Bordentown. As 
they advanced, the patriot militia of Burlington County 
broke down the bridges, but the enemy succeeded in reach- 
ing Bordentown, and then proceeded to Bustleton. Pursu- 

1 For names of field officers of these regiments see Part ii. No. 4. 



ing a little party of American riflemen who had crossed the 
ri\'er below Bordentown for the purpose of scouting, they 
came, about two o'clock in the morning, to the York bridge 
over the Assiscunk Creek. The Americans eluded further 
pursuit b}' recrossing the ri\'er to Bristol, Hearing that 
Colonel von Donop and the Hessian troops were approach- 
ing, John Lawrence, the mayor of the town, with two or 
three other prominent citizens, went out on the old York road 
to meet them and to plead for the safety of the village and 
its inhabitants. John Lawrence was a man of some distinc- 
tion in his time ; and in after years his son, James Lawrence, 
captain in the United States navy, became famous as the 
hero of the Chesapeake, and his dying shout, " Don't give 
up the ship," has rendered his name the ideal of Amer- 



tX^f*:^.- -^'- .^,-^< ^^y■^'■'■-'iyy'^^^,^.'yS'^'^'^^y^•'^^ 

■^- Jif .y 

Origi}Lal ill I'osscssion of A jdhor 


ican heroism. It is not stated in history nor in that singular 
diary of Margaret Morris, the Quakeress, that John Law- 
rence was in any way charged, as she was, with Toryism, but 
the rector of St. Mary's Church at Burlington, the Rev. 
Jonathan Odell, who was also a practicing physician, and 
who accompanied the mayor for the purpose of speaking 
French to Colonel von Donop, was a loyalist of extreme 
views, and so a suitable man for this embassy. On October 
i8, 1775, the Provincial Congress of New Jersey had discov- 
ered that Mr. Odell had written two very un-American letters. 
His case had been considered with great care, but at that 
time Congress had declined to pass public censure against 
him. On the 20th of the next July, however, the county 
committee of Burlington was ordered to take his parole to 
confine himself on the east side of the river and within a 
radius of eight miles from his residence — because, as they 
said, he was " a person suspected of being inimical to Amer- 
ican liberty." He accompanied Sir Henry Clinton, the Brit- 
ish commander-in-chief, when he returned to England in 
November, 1783, at the close of the war.i The Burlington 
County committee told Colonel von Donop that if he brought 
his force into Burlington, they probably would have to sub- 
mit to a cannonade from the vessels of the American fleet 
lying in the Delaware River, near the town. Colonel von 
Donop urged the deputation to see the commander of the 
fleet, and, leaving his troops near the bridge, he entered 
the town himself with some of his staff officers and a small 
guard. It was agreed with the Burlington committee that 
these men should receive quarters and refreshments, and 
that no one in the village should conceal arms or ammuni- 
tion, under threat of pillage by the Hessians. Then the offi- 
cers went to the house of Mayor Lawrence, dined at his 
table, and waited there for Commodore Thomas Seymour's 

^ Hills's History of the Church in Burlington, p. 315 ; Force's Amer- 
ican Archives, fourth series, vol. vi. p. 165 1 ; Tyler's Literary History 
of the American Revolution, vol. ii. p. 103 ; Private Journal of Mar- 
garet Morris of Burlington, p. 8. 


answer to the delegation. Being on shore at the time, Cap- 
tain Thomas Moore, one of the officers of the armed boat 
Hancock, accompanied the party. The wind was blowing 
very hard, and it was with great difficulty that the delega- 
tion reached the flagship, which was some distance down 
the river. While they were on their way to this vessel, 
some of the men in the gondolas saw the Hessian guards 
pacing the streets of Burlington, and fire was opened in- 
stantly on the town. Hearing this, the mayor and William 
Dillwyn, another prominent citizen of the place, went down 
the main street to the wharf, and waved their hats to the 
boats for the sailors to cease firing, but they, too, were fired 
upon. Then Colonel von Donop and his officers left the 
table, and went toward the river to make observations of 
the state of affairs, but they were seen, and the cannonade 
up Main, now High street, and along the river bank, now 
Delaware street, was continued all the afternoon. Several 
houses of the citizens were struck, but no one was injured. 
It is said many of the people hid in their cellars during the 
firing. When Captain Moore and the delegation had reached 
the commodore's vessel, they fpund that he had already 
ordered four galleys up to the town with orders to fire on it 
if any Hessians were seen. Seymour told the committee 
from Burlington that if the Hessian troops quartered them- 
selves in that town, he would have no mercy on the place, 
but would immediately open on it with all his guns. The 
delegation promptly reported this threat to Colonel von 
Donop, and as he had no heavy guns with which to reply to 
the fleet, and had discovered that some of the residents 
were loyalists, he thought it prudent to withdraw from Bur- 
lington. This he did, and marched his men back to Bustle- 
ton, where they spent the night. On the next morning, 
December 12, some of the men from the gondolas came 
into Burlington, and told the people that they intended to 
burn the town, for they suspected that the Hessians were 
concealed there. These men remained in the village until 
the night of December 17, when Captain Shippin, who was 


afterward killed at the battle of Princeton, took all the men 
back to the vessels, and the town became quiet. In the 
meantime Colonel von Donop had marched his men to Bor- 
dentown, and having placed there a detachment of yagers, 
under special orders to prevent the inhabitants from remov- 
ing goods and provisions, and his own men from plundering 
the houses, he returned to Trenton. 

On the 13th of December General Howe informed Colo- 
nel von Donop ^ that he would place him in command of the 
two Hessian brigades, — his own and that of Colonel Rail, with 
all the yagers, dragoons and artillerists attached. He also 
assigned him winter quarters at Bordentown, and ordered a 
strong body of troops to report to him there. The Forty- 
second British regiment (known as the Royal Highland regi- 
ment, and sometimes called the " Highland Watch "), one of 
the best organizations in the service, and under the command 
of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Sterling, a fine officer, was 
ordered to this cantonment. There were also three battal- 
ions of Hessians, — the grenadier battalions von Linsingen, 
von Block and von Minnigerode. Also attached to these 
organizations were the second company of Hessian yagers. 
Captain Johann Ewald in command, a detachment of Hessian 
artillery with six three-pounders, and one company of British 
artillery with two six-pounders and two three-pounders. 

The Hessian grenadier battalion von Koehler with four 
eighteen-pounders was ordered from New York to join Colo- 
nel von Donop at Bordentown, coming by vessel to Amboy, 
and then marching across the State, but it did not join him 
before he broke up his cantonment. 

Colonel von Donop also directed that Captain Georg Hein- 
rich Pauli, an engineer officer, should remain with Colonel 

1 The commander of the grenadiers, Colonel Carl Emil Kurt von 
Donop, belonged to the second division of the Hessian troops. Colonel 
von Donop was one of the bravest and most cultured officers of the 
Hessian soldiery. He was mortally wounded, October 22, 1777, at the 
battle of Red Bank on the Delaware River. For copies of orders to 
Colonel von Donop, and to Colonel Rail, see Part ii. Nos. 5 and 6. 


Rail for a few days to point out where redoubts should be 
erected for the protection of the post of Trenton. He then 
(December 14) marched to his winter post at Borden town 
with the troops assigned him. It was von Donop's intention 
to order the Forty-second regiment, British foot, and the 
grenadier battalion von Block to the post of Burlington, but 
finding that the town was under American guns, he thought 
it prudent to delay the occupation until the heavy artillery 
should come from Amboy with the battalion von Koehler. 
The two organizations referred to were temporarily ordered 
to Black Horse, Burlington County, a village now known as 
Columbus. One company of yagers, consisting of one offi- 
cer and thirty men, was ordered to post itself about two 
miles north of Bordentown, on the road to Trenton, and 
another detachment in a mill a short distance south of Bor- 
dentown, on the river. 

On the day that these Hessian battalions took post at 
Bordentown, Captain Henry Miller, who belonged to Colonel 
Edward Hand's Pennsylvania riflemen, and who had been in 
New Jersey with a small scouting party, reported having 
met and received the fire of von Donop's advance. The 
soldiers were quartered in farmers' houses in Burlington 
County in squads of ten to fifteen, much to the annoyance 
of a community of Quakers peculiarly averse to war. The 
vivacious Highlander in his kilt and tartan, his low checkered 
bonnet, and many colored stockings, was in strong contrast 
to the dull, phlegmatic German in his sombre uniform. But 
the Germans were the first to commence a pillage upon the 
inhabitants, friend and foe alike. They took possession of 
every article they desired, under the spirit of the orders 
which von Donop had received from Howe. 

All the assignments which have just been stated were made 
by General Howe, who regarded the party around General 
Washington with utter contempt, and was confident of his 
ability to hold possession of these widely scattered posts. 
This arrangement of numerous unsupported cantonments 
reflected no credit upon his generalship. 


Major-General James Grant, baronet, of Ballendallock, 
and colonel of the Fifty-fifth regiment of British foot,i was 
placed in command of all the troops in New Jersey, and 
stationed with the strongest body of soldiers at Brunswick, 
whither all the supplies for the army were sent and from 
there distributed. 

General Howe, accompanied by General Cornwallis, left 
Trenton December 13, and returned to resume, for the win- 
ter, his life of ease at his headquarters in New York. They 
both thought that the capture of Philadelphia might occur 
at any time, and that, if it was deemed necessary, the city 
could be immediately taken, as the rebel army would soon be 
disbanded. So impressed were they with this idea that Lord 
Cornwallis obtained a leave of absence to visit his home in 
England. He then made every arrangement to sail at an 
early date, and had his baggage placed on the packet vessel, 
confidently expecting to give the king the cheering informa- 
tion of the final collapse of the feeble rebellion against his 

On December 15 Colonel von Donop ordered the gren- 
adier battalion von Linsingen to take post half way between 
Black Horse and Bordentown, at a little place known as 

1 This is the same General Grant whom Lord Stiriing of the Amer- 
ican army heard declare, in the English House of Commons, February 
2, 1775, " that the Americans could not fight, and that he would under- 
take to march from one end of the continent to the other with five thou- 
sand men." 

^ At this time the following orders were issued : " Headquarters, De- 
cember 14, 1776. The Campaign having closed with the Pursuit of 
the Enemies Army near ninety Miles by Lieut. Gen. Cornwallis's Corps, 
much to the honor of his Lordship and the Officers and Soldiers under 
his Command, The Approach of Winter putting a Stop to any further 
Progress, the Troops will immediately march into Quarters and hold 
themselves in Readiness to assemble on the shortest Notice. 

" The Commander-in-Chief calls upon the Commanding Ofiicers of 
Corps to exert themselves in preserving the greatest Regularity and 
strictest Discipline in their respective Quarters, particularly attending 
to the Protection of Inhabitants and their Property in their several 


Mansfield Square. A report had reached him at noon that 
General Putnam had come up from Philadelphia in the direc- 
tion of Mount Holl)' with a force of 3000 rebels. He im- 
mediately sent out a detachment of 200 grenadiers and 
mounted yag'crs to ascertain the truth of the report. The}- 


were unable to find the xVmerican column, and reported to 
that effect. During the day Major Nichols,' crossing the 
river from Bristol, came up from Burlington to Bordentown 
for the purpose of making an exchange of prisoners. Colo- 
nel von Donop's criticism of this officer in his report is very 

The next day Colonel \'on Donop wrote to General Leslie 
at Princeton and to General Grant letters giving in detail 
the events of the preceding day.^ 

1 Probably Major Francis NichoLs, Ninth Penn.sylvania Continental 
regiment. This oiificer is often alluded to in the documents connected 
with the " Reed Controversy." 

2 For these letters see Part ii. Nos. 7 and 8. 


On December 17 the "express riders'' between Borden- 
town and Brunswick must have been particularly active. 
Very early that morning Colonel von Donop wrote as follows 
to General Grant at Brunswick : — 

"In accordance with my communication of yesterday, I 
have the honour to advise you, my General, that the patrol 
has been sent out and has seen nothing of the enemy. They 
found near the bridge between Mount Holly and Moores- 
town a quantity of cannon-ball and shells which they threw 
into the water. According to the reports of the country 
people the enemy must be at Cooper's Creek with a force of 
4000 men and General Putnam who commands them must 
be busy in collecting stores. If I did not know that the 
heavy artillery were to arrive to-day or to-morrow I would 
be very desirous of marching with the three battalions and 
making a call on Mister General Putnam. I will follow out 
your orders on this subject as soon as possible. Yesterday 
evening a farmer came to say that General Washington had 
crossed the river at Vessels' Ferry with a large force on the 
right flank of Colonel Rail for the purpose of uniting with 
the corps of General Lee. This man however has disap- 
peared after telling his story to the Mayor of Burlington. 
If this news is true the troops which have crossed must be 
the corps of General Stirhng, who has his quarters at Beau- 
monts about two miles above the ferry. The six chasseurs 
who were lately driven from the house near the river at 
Trenton were again attacked yesterday morning by a detach- 
ment of the enemy which crossed in three boats under the 
protection of the eighteen pounders in their batteries. We 
were not able to prevent them from landing and were obliged 


to retire until Colonel Rail brought up a force to their assist- 
ance. After this the rascals went off taking away as their 
only prize a pig which had j ust been killed by the chasseurs. 
The two gondolas which came near me here and which I 
made mention of yesterday, I believe have gone down the 
river again to await me at Burlington. I have the honour 
to send you two orders issued by General Putnam. It is 
evident we will have to make a siege of it. . . . 

"At this moment I have just received the news that Colo- 
nel Rail sent yesterday evening a patrol of six dragoons to 
Pennington, which has not yet returned and one of these 
dragoons has been seen ten miles from Trenton mortally 

This letter was received by General Grant the same day, 
and he immediately made this reply : — 

"Brunswick 17th Dec. 1776. I have just received your 
report of this Days date, that of yesterday has not reached 
me. The General set out this morning for New York. 
Your fourth Battalion of Grenadiers is still at this place. 
You shall be informed when they march from South Amboy 
with the heavy artillery, but you need not expect them for 
some days, and you will have time enough before their arri- 
val if you think proper to drive Putnam from Cooper's Creek 
and put a stop to his carrying off the Magazines for I am 
sure there is no Rebel force on this Side the Delaware, 
which will attempt to stand before hessian Grenadiers under 
your command. 

" I can hardly believe that Washington would venture at 
this season of the year to pass the Delaware at Vessels 
Ferry,^ as the repassing it may on account of the ice be- 
come difficult. I should rather think that Lee's Corps has 
proceeded to Philadelphia, for we have heard nothing of 
them, since Lee was made Prisoner, and prior to that the 
Intention was to march to East-Town in order to cross the 

1 The ferry which afterward became known as McKonkey's Ferry. 


" Putnam's Hand Bills and Lee's account ^ differ exceed- 
ingly about the Intention of the Rebels with regard to Phila- 
delphia. For Lee declares that they are determined to burn 
the Town, if they cannot prevent its falling into our Hands. 
General Matthew marched this morning to Plackhemin 
where he fell in with a small body of rebels ; they fled on his 
Approach — he has taken a few prisoners — some Arms and 
stores, his Guide was wounded in the foot, that was all the 
Loss we sustained. General Leslie marched this morning to 
Springfield and is to proceed from thence by Bound-Brook 
to Prince Town. I have had no report from him, indeed 
cannot expect it till to-morrow. 

"Lieut. Col. Mawhood likewise marched this morning by 
Hillsborough towards Flemingtown, he is not yet returned. 
When you send a Light Dragoon from Trenton, the Letter 
should be forwarded to me from Princetown, where your 
Dragoon should remain to carry back my answer from 
Princetown to Trenton, by that means the conveyance will 
be quicker and the Dragoons less fatigued. I will write to 
General Leslie to observe this rule in future. After you get 
the iS pounders, the rebel Gondolas will not remain long at 
Burlington and if the Frost continues they will not wait even 
this Event." 

It will be seen that the false report of the crossing of a 
large detachment of Washington's army at Vessels' Ferry 
had reached the Hessian commanding officers, and they 
were anxious to determine the truth of the statement. Gen- 
eral Grant did not beheve that there was any large force on 
the Jersey side of the river ; and even if there were he was 
disposed to think lightly of any troops which the foe could 
bring against the trained battalions under his charge. 

Colonel Rail, too, was curious to know what was going on 
around him, and that same day (December 17) he seems to 
have specially exerted himself to obtain information.^ 

' It would appear that General Lee was even in 1776 expressing his 
opinion and giving information to the enemy. 

2 See letters. Rail and von Donop, Part ii. Nos. 12 and 13. 


Early in the morning of December 16 a little scouting 
party of the Americans crossed the river at Trenton Ferry, 
as stated in Colonel Rail's letter of the following day.i 
Having so successfully stirred up the post on the first occa- 
sion, the temptation to do it once more was irresistible. 

Colonel Rail again wrote to Colonel von Donop, giving 
him the news at Trenton up to December 18,^ reporting 
affairs between scouting parties, — a service conducted with 
great activity on the American side. 

To return to the American army in camp on the Pennsyl- 
vania side of the Delaware River. General Washington still 
wondered why General Charles Lee did not join him as 
directed. Requests by letter, written in the most pressing 
terms, and direct orders by messengers, seemed alike inef- 
fectual to hasten his march. All dispatches appeared to be 
unheeded, and although it was known that he had crossed 
the Hudson River even as late as December 4, and that he 
was now on the march, yet his progress seemed slow indeed 
to the commander-in-chief. 

On December i Washington wrote these urgent words to 
Lee from Brunswick : ^ " The enemy are advancing and 
have got as far as Woodbridge and Amboy, and from infor- 
mation not to be doubted they mean to push for Philadel- 
phia. The force I have with me is infinitely inferior in num- 
bers and such as cannot give or promise the least successful 
opposition. . I must entreat you to hasten your march as 
much as possible or your arrival may be too late to answer 
any valuable purpose." 

On December 7 Washington had dispatched from Tren- 
ton Major Robert Hoops, brigade major on the staff of Bri- 
gadier-General Philemon Dickinson, to urge General Lee to 
hasten his march and to inform him that boats had been pro- 
vided to transport his men across the river at what was then 
known as Tinicum Ferry. And again (December 10) Wash- 

1 Part ii. No. 12. 

2 Part ii. No. 14. 

3 Ford's Writings of George Washington, vol. v. p. 62. 


ington appealed to him : ^ " Do come on, your arrival may be 
happy, and, if it can be effected without delay, it may be the 
means of preserving a city, whose loss must prove of the 
most fatal consequence to the cause of America." Finally 
on the nth he wrote: "I shall only say that Philadelphia, 
beyond all question, is the object of the enemy's move- 
ments, and that nothing less than our utmost exertions will 
be sufficient to prevent General Howe from possessing it. 
The force I have is weak and entirely incompetent to that 
end. I must therefore entreat you to push on with every 
possible succour you can bring." ^ Neither of these letters 
ever reached General Lee. 

It is clear that General Lee did not regard any of these 
dispatches as orders, but merely as letters of advice, and he 
evidently did not care to merge his own command with the 
main army. He had had plans of his own, such as a dash 
on the city of New York, and even now preferred to follow 
laggardly somewhat in the rear of the British troops rather 
than place himself with his chief in their very front. He 
had written to the president of the Council of Massachusetts 
that he "considered the resolves of Congress as of no 
weight," and had added this strange remark: "There are 
times when we must commit treason against the laws of the 
State, and the present crisis demands this brave, virtuous 
kind of treason." This was singular language for the sec- 
ond military commander in the new republic to use. 

It is quite apparent that he considered himself as on de- 
tached service, and there appears to be no doubt that he 
had planned an important diversion by marching through 
Pluckemin to Princeton, and making an attack on the en- 
emy's rear-guard, or striking a signal blow at the post at 
Brunswick, and then passing around to the British left, and 
taking the old York road to the ferry at Burlington. Gen- 
eral Washington had written General Lee that he would 
have no objection to his hanging on the enemy's rear if 

' Ford's Writings of George Washington, vol. v. p. 74. 
^ Ibid. vol. V. p. 83. 



there was sufficient force to oppose an advance upon Phila- 

It appears that Lee was twenty-three da)'s in mo\'ing his 
army from White Plains, on the Hudson I^iver, to IMorris- 
town. But about eleven o'clock on the morning of Friday, 
December 13, he was surprised at White's Tavern, near 
Baskingridge, Somerset County, by a scouting party of 



thirty dragoons. This tavern was fully twenty miles from 
the English lines, and at least four miles outside the pickets 
of his own division. This little body of troopers, which 
belonged to the Si.xteenth regiment, also called Burgoyne's 
regiment, of Queen's light dragoons, at that time under the 
immediate command of I..ieutenant-Colonel the Hon. Wil- 
liam Harcourt, and which had been sent out from Penning- 
ton to watch the movements of Tee's division, captured the 
general himself with "infinite address and gallantry." ^ 

^ This detachment, as we are informed in De Fonblanque's L//i 
of General Burgovne, was part of that regiment which Lee, then a colo- 
nel in the British service, led across the Tagus on October 5, 1762, 


General Lee was treated by the British at first as a 
deserter from their army rather than as a prisoner of war, 
because he had entered the American service before his 
resignation as a heutenant-colonel on half pay had been ac- 
cepted. He had been made an ensign in the British army 
while yet a youth, and had taken part in the French and 
Indian war in America with such fierce energy that the 
savages had given him the name of " the spirit that never 
sleeps." He was also engaged in the Spanish war in Por- 
tugal, and had been a general officer in the army of Poland. 
After being held as a prisoner for many months, the English 
government, considering that the war was about to close, 
began to deal with him as a state prisoner.^ 

under instructions from Burgoyne, and inflicted great damage on the 
enemy at Villa Velha. British accounts and the notes on the war writ- 
ten by the Hessian officer Captain Ewald say that the troopers captured 
one of Lee's messengers, forced him to act as their guide, and so came 
upon the American officer suddenly; but Major William Bradford of 
Lee's stafE, a Rhode Island officer, says that a Jersey loyalist (said to 
have been James Compton of Baskingridge) had informed Lieutenant- 
Colonel Harcourt that Lee was spending the night outside of his own 
lines, with but an insignificant guard. Cornet Banistre Tarleton, First 
regiment dragoon guards (afterward so notorious in the South), was 
with this scouting party as a volunteer, and led the attacking force. 
The troopers surrounded the tavern, fired a volley, and carried Lee off 
without his hat and in his slippers, an odd-looking prisoner, whom they 
took to " Penny Town " (Pennington). In January, however, he was 
in the jail at Brunswick, and later (January 22, 1777) he arrived in New 
York city. M. de Gaiault, a French officer (sometimes given the title 
of lieutenant-colonel), who had just joined Lee as a volunteer aide-de- 
camp, was taken with him. 

It may be noted here that the little troop of the Sixteenth Queen's 
light dragoons, while returning to its post, made a diversion for the 
purpose of stirring up the patriotic people of the village of Flemington. 
As they dashed up the old road to the town, a bullet from, the flint- 
lock of some Jersey farmer emptied the saddle of Cornet Francis Geary, 
entered in the British army lists as "killed December 14, 1776." In 
1891 his grave by the roadside was opened, and the truth of the village 
tradition verified by the buttons of his coat, marked " 16 Q. L. D.," 
being found. — Proceedings N.J. Hist. Soc. 2d series, xi. 166. 

1 General Washington, in a letter dated December 18, and written to 


The capture of Lee had a bad effect upon the people and 
upon the army. They had extolled him as a brilliant officer, 
full of decision of character and knowledge of war. Too 
many believed that had Washington followed more closely 
Lee's advice the disasters which had fallen upon the cause 
would have been averted. The British, too, thought that 
they had captured what they termed the "American Pal- 
ladium" — the embodiment of the military genius of the 
rebellion, and they gloried greatly in the good fortune 
which had placed such a leader in their hands. 

As we look upon it now, his conduct shows that his loss 
was really a gain to the service. His military life was full 
of disobedience. He tried in secret to defame the character 
of Washington, that he might supplant him in command. 
His letters written at the very house of his capture show 
that he was treacherous. One letter to General Gates, dated 
December 1 3, 1 776, which, when he was captured, he was 
about to give to Major James Wilkinson (Gates's aide-de- 
camp), and which Wilkinson hastily thrust into his pocket 
as he concealed himself, shows his bitter jealousy as well as 
it depicts the state of his command. " Entre nous, a certain 
great man is most damnably deficient — He has thrown me 
into a situation where I have my choice of difficulties — if I 
•stay in this Province I risk myself and Army and if I do not 
stay the Province is lost for ever — I have neither guides. 
Cavalry Medicines Money Shoes or Stockings — I must act 
with the greatest circumspection — Tories are in my front 
rear and on my flanks — the Mass of the People is strangely 
contaminated — in short unless something which I do not 
expect turns up We are lost — our Counsels have been weak 
to the last degree." ^ 

his brother, John Augustine Washington, speaks of the capture of Lee 
in thisiway : " It was by his own folly and imprudence (and without a 
view to answer any good) he was taken." General Greene spoke of 
his capture in unequivocal language, calling it a " strange infatuation,'' 
and General Lord Stirhng wrote that it was " one of Lee's eccentric 
movements and only remarkable from its direction." 
1 New York Hist. Soc. Collections, 1872, p. 348. 


His overweening ambition, his bad judgment, his fickle 
will and his treacherous heart ever urged him to act inde- 
pendent of the commander-in-chief, both with his own troops 
and with those which, by diverting General Gates's command, 
he hoped soon to receive from the northern army. With 
these troops he intended to attempt some brilliant feat which 
would enable him, as he wrote to General Heath, to " recon- 
quer the Jerseys," and then to be called upon to assume the 
highest command in the army.^ His conduct on the bat- 
tlefield of Monmouth, now so fully and clearly explained in 
the late Dr. George H. Moore's " Treason of Charles Lee," 
proves him to have been a very traitor at heart. While in 
captivity in New York, March 29, 1777, he endeavored to 
betray America into the hands of her enemies. Of late 
years a document has been found in England in Lee's hand- 
writing, bearing the date just given and indorsed " Mr. Lee's 
plan," which was intended to show the British how they 
could most easily conquer America.^ Certain it is that had 
he lived longer in military office, like another American 
general he would have transferred his allegiance back to 
the British crown.^ 

1 In the Journal of Elias Boudinot, commissary-general of prisoners 
(afterward president of the Continental Congress), Proceedings of Hu- 
guenot Society of America, vol. ii. p. 278, that distinguished patriot 
refers to language used by Lee to him, in which he " immediately 
began to urge the improbability of our troops, under such an ignorant 
commander-in-chief, ever withstanding British grenadiers and light 
infantry." And again, " that General Washington was not fit to com- 
mand a sergeant's guard." 

^ General Lee was a witty, eccentric, conceited soldier of fortune, 
eager to espouse the cause of independence, rather more, it is to be 
feared, because of its novelty and the opportunity it afforded for the 
display of his brilliant talents, wide experience and military skill, than 
for the love which he pretended to have for American freedom. He is 
described by Mrs. Mercy Warren, the historian, as "a tall man, lank 
and thin, with a huge nose, a satirical mouth and restless eyes, who sat 
his horse as if he had often ridden at fox-hunts in England, and wore a 
uniform with a cynical disregard of public opinion." 

' The Treason of Charles Lee, Major-General, Second in Command in 
the American Army of the Revolution, by George H. Moore, Librarian 


Immediately after the capture of General Lee, the next 
officer in rank, Major-General John Sullivan (who had been 
exchanged after his capture at the battle of Long Island for 
General Prescott ^), assumed command of Lee's division, and 
in order to show the troops that they had still a competent 
commander he rode along the lines and gave his orders in 
person to advance, hastening with his force to Germantown, 
from there to Pittstown, and then, to avoid the British 
troops at Pennington, took the road to Phillipsburg. He 
crossed the Delaware River to Easton December 15, and 
thence marched to Bethlehem, reporting to General Wash- 
ington, in a snowstorm, on the 20th, with about 2000 men 
"much out of sorts and much in want of everything." The 
next day the New England brigade. Colonel Daniel Hitch- 
cock, was sent to Bristol to reinforce the brigade of Phila- 
delphia militia stationed there under Colonel John Cad- 

The division of Major-General Horatio Gates, seven regi- 

of the New York Historical Society, i860, depicts him as "plain in his 
person to a degree of ugliness ; careless even to impoliteness ; his 
garb ordinary ; his voice rough ; his manners morose ; yet sensible, 
learned, judicious and penetrating." In the Memoirs of General Lee, 
written by Edward Langworthy, he is said to have been " of a genteel 
make, and rather above the middle size ; his remarkable aquiline nose 
rendered his face somewhat disagreeable." Sir Hugh Bunbury writes : 
" In person he was tall and extremely thin ; his face ugly, with an aqui- 
line nose of enormous proportion." 

In the. Jou!-nal of a British Officer, Captain Thomas Harris (in after 
years Lord Harris), we find this remark in reference to the capture of 
this American general : " Lee behaved as cowardly in this transaction as 
he had dishonorably in every other. After firing one or two shots from 
the house he came out and entreated our troops to spare his life. Had 
he behaved with proper spirit I should have pitied him and wished that 
his energies had been exerted in a better cause. I could hardly refrain 
from tears when I first saw him and thought of the miserable fate in 
which his obstinacy had involved him." 

1 Brigadier-General Richard Prescott had been captured November 
17, 1775, and exchanged September 4, 1776, for General Sullivan. 
General Prescott was again captured near Newport, Rhode Island, July 
10, 1777, and exchanged April 21, 1778, for Major-General Charles Lee. 


ments in all, under the direct command of Brigadier-General 
Benedict Arnold, arri\'ed at 13cthlehem the same day, De- 
cember 20, having also crossed the river at Easton. Gates 
had left his command at Sussex Court House, and with his 
staff and escort had crossed the river a few miles above 

Easton. But when he 

reached Bethlehem, he 

found both his own and 

^m^ Sullivan's troops there. 

M^^M * ■ A The force of General 

WB^^/^^B^i^ Gates consisted of but 

"■^^^^^^^^^ 500 effective men, and 

they had suffered greatly 
in a severe snowstorm 
which had detained them 
on the road through Sus- 
sex County, New Jersey, 
in the valley between the 
Walpack and the Kit- 
tatinny ridges. General 
Gates, after reporting 
himself at headquarters, 
was allowed to go to 
I'hiladelphia on " sick 
Three other regiments, under Brigadier-General Alex- 
ander AfcDougall, stopped at Morristown, and were united 
with about 700 New Jersey militia in charge of Colonel 
Jacob 1^'ord, Jr., commanding the eastern battalion of Morris 
County. These regiments consisted in all of about 520 
officers cmd men, — the Third Massachusetts or Twenty- 
fourth Continental infantry. Colonel John Greaton, 250 men ; 
the Twenty-fifth Continental infantry, formerly commanded 
by Colonel William Bond (who had died of fever August 31, 
1776), 100 men, and the Fourth Hampshire County (Massa- 
chusetts) regiment, Colonel Elisha Porter, 170 men. Briga- 
dier-General William Maxwell, who had been in command of 



the New Jersey Continental line at Ticonderoga (whose 
term of service had expired), was placed by General Wash- 
ington (December 20) in charge of this corps at Morristown, 
with orders to harass the enemy, and, if possible, to prevent 
the people from taking protection from the British author- 
ities. He reached Morristown December 22, and assumed 
command of all the Continental and militia forces there. 
These troops in the brigade of General McDougall, and the 
division which crossed the river under General Arnold, 
were all sent by General Schuyler from the Northern army, 
although they had but the month of December to serve in 
the army. The fiery Wayne was not permitted to accom- 
pany them, eager as he was to do so. 

On Wednesday, December 11, the Continental Congress 
made a resolve calling for a day of fasting and humilia- 
tion, in view of the distressing condition of the American 

Herewith is the text of this action in Congress : — 

" The committee appointed to prepare a resolution for ap- 
pointing a day of fasting and humiliation brought in a report 
which was read and agreed to, as follows : — 

" Whereas the war in which the United States are en- 
gaged with Great Britain has not only been prolonged, but is 
likely to be carried to the greatest extremity ; and whereas 
it becomes all public bodies, as well as private persons, to 
reverence the providence of God, and look up to him as 
the supreme disposer of all events and the arbiter of the fate 
of nations ; therefore 

" Resolved, That it be recommended to all the United States 
as soon as possible to appoint a day of solemn fasting and 
humiliation ; to implore of Almighty God the forgiveness of 
the many sins prevailing among all ranks, and to beg the 
countenance and assistance of his providence in the prosecu- 
tion of the present just and necessary war. 

" The Congress do also in the most earnest manner re- 
commend to all the members of the United States, and 
particularly the officers civil and military under them, the 


exercise of repentance and reformation ; and further, require 
of them the strict observation of the articles of war, and par- 
ticularly that part of the said articles which forbids profane 
swearing and all immorality, of which all such officers are 
desired to take notice. 

" It is left to each State to issue out proclamations fixing 
the day that appears most proper within its bounds." 

The following instructions were issued by General Wash- 
ington to Brigadier-Generals Lord Stirling, Mercer, Stephen 
and De Fermoy : — 

Head-Quarters, at Keith's, 
14 December, 1776. 

Dear Sir, — Lest the enemy should in some degree avail 
themselves of the knowledge (for I do not doubt but they 
are well informed of everything we do), I did not care to be 
so particular in the general orders of this day, as I mean to 
be in this letter to you. As much time, then, would be lost, 
should the enemy attempt crossing the river at any pass 
within your guard, in first sending you notice, and in the 
troops to wait for orders what to do, I would advise you to 
examine the whole river from the upper to the lower guard 
of your district ; and, after forming an opinion of the most 
probable crossing-places, let those be well watched, and 
direct the regiments or companies most convenient to repair, 
as they can be formed, immediately to the point of attack, 
and give the enemy all the opposition they possibly can. 
Everything in a manner depends upon the defence at the 
water's edge. In like manner, one brigade is to support an- 
other, without loss of time, or waiting for orders from me. 
I would also have you fix upon some central spot convenient 
to your brigade, but in the rear a little, and on some road 
leading into the back road to Philadelphia, for your unneces- 
sary baggage, wagons, and stores ; that, in case your oppo- 
sition should prove ineffectual, these things may not fall 
(into the enemy's hands), but be got off, and proceed over 
Neshaminy Bridge towards Germantown, agreeably to the 
determination of the board of officers the other day. 


Let me entreat you to find out some person, who can be 
engaged to cross the river as a spy, that we may, if possible, 
obtain some knowledge of the enemy's situation, movements, 
and intention. Particular inquiry should be made by the 
person sent, if any preparations are making to cross the 
river ; whether any boats are building and where ; whether 
they are coming over land from Brunswick ; whether any 
great collection of horses is made, and for what purpose. 
Expense must not be spared in procuring such intelligence, 
and it will readily be paid by me. We are in a neighbour- 
hood of very disaffected people. Equal care therefore should 
be taken, that one of these persons does not undertake the 
business in order to betray us. 

I am, dear Sir, yours, &c. 

Go. Washington.! 
' Ford's Writings of George Washington, vol. v. p. 92. 


Scarcely a week had passed since Washington had 
crossed the river, and so placed a barrier between his despond- 
ent army and the foe, before he began to think of making 
an aggressive movement. Major John Armstrong, the per- 
sonal aide-de-camp of General Mercer, wrote a half century 
after this event : " Two or three days after we had crossed 
the Delaware there were several meetings between the adju- 
tant-general and General Mercer, at which I was permitted 
to be present ; the questions were discussed, whether the 
propriety and practicability did not exist of carrying the out- 
posts of the enemy and ought not to be attempted. On this 
point no disagreement existed between the generals, and to 
remove objections in other quarters it was determined they 
should separately open the subject to the commander-in- 
chief and to such officers as would probably compose his 
council of war, if any should be called. I am sure the first 
of these meetings was at least ten days before the attack on 
Trenton was made." 

We find the first notice of the future plans of the Amer- 
ican chief in a letter to General Gates, dated December 14 :^ 
" If we can draw our forces together, I trust, under the 
smiles of Providence, we may yet effect an important stroke, 
or at least prevent General Howe from executing his plans." 

And again on the same day he wrote to Governor Jon- 
athan Trumbull, the patriotic executive of Connecticut, in 
reference to the troops of Gates : " By coming on they may, 
in conjunction with my present force, and that under Gen- 
eral Lee, enable us to attempt a stroke upon the forces of 
the enemy, who lie a good deal scattered, and to all appear- 
ances in a state of security. A lucky blow in this quarter 
' Ford's Writings of George Washington, vol. v. p. 91. 


would be fatal to them, and would most certainly rouse the 
spirits of the people, which are quite sunk by our late mis- 
fortunes." ^ 

He wrote also to Major-General William Heath on that 
day : " If we can collect our force speedily I should hope 
we may effect something of importance or at least give such 
a turn to our affairs as to make them assume a more pleas- 
ing aspect than they now have." 

On the 2 1st day of December General Greene wrote the 
following to Governor Nicholas Cooke of Rhode Island : ^ 
" We are now on the west side of the Delaware ; our force 
is small when collected together ; but small as it is, I hope 
we shall give the enemy a stroke in a few days. Should 
fortune favor the attack, perhaps it may put a stop to Gen- 
eral Howe's progress." 

Rumors of these plans, entirely unofficial, however, reached 
Philadelphia, but it is supposed that they were scarcely cred- 
ited by those who had heard of the condition of the army. 
In Christopher Marshall's " Remembrances," under date of 
December 1 8 we find this expression : " News that our army 
intended to cross at Trenton into the Jerseys." ^ 

It was imperative that something be at least attempted, 
or the union of the States would be pronounced a failure, 
the Declaration of Independence counted an idle boast, and 
the cause of liberty immediately abandoned. In Washing- 
ton's letter to his brother (December 18) the situation is 
well described : " If every nerve is not strained to recruit 
the new army with all possible expedition, I think the game 
is pretty nearly up, owing, in a great measure, to the insidious 
arts of the enemy and disaffection of the colonies before 
mentioned, but principally to the ruinous policy of short 
enlistments, and placing too great a dependence on the mili- 

^ Ford's Writings of George Washington, vol. v. p. 93. 

^ Force's American Archives, sth series, vol. iii. p. 1342. 

' Robert Morris also wrote to Washington, December 21 : "I have 
been told to-day that you are preparing to cross into the Jerseys. I 
hope it may be true." 


tia, the evil consequences of which were foretold fifteen 
months ago, with a spirit almost prophetic. . . . You can 
form no idea of the perplexity of my situation. No man, I 
believe, ever had a greater choice of difficulties, and less 
means to extricate himself from them. However, under a 
full persuasion of the justice of our cause, I cannot entertain 
an idea that it will finally sink, though it may remain for 
some time under a cloud." ^ 

The historian Bancroft in his great work remarks, in refer- 
ence to the troubles with which General Washington had to 
contend and the means at hand to relieve them : — 

" The sharp tribulation which assayed his fortitude carried 
with it a divine and an animating virtue. Hope and zeal 
illuminated his grief. His emotions come to us across the 
century like strains from an eternity which repairs all losses 
and rights all wrongs ; in his untold sorrows his trust in 
Providence kept up in his heart an under-song of wonderful 
sweetness. The spirit of the Most High dwells among the 
afflicted, rather than the prosperous ; and he who has never 
broken his bread in tears knows not the heavenly powers. 
The trials of Washington are the dark, solemn ground on 
which the beautiful work of the country's salvation was 

The situation at this time from the British point of view 
is set forth in the report which General Howe made to Lord 
Germain, colonial secretary of state, December 20, 1776.^ 
It describes in detail the rather dignified pursuit of the en- 
emy, who is represented as being at the last gasp, although 
it is admitted that the partial destruction of a bridge over 
the Raritan impedes the British progress, and that as the 
Americans had denuded the Delaware near Trenton of 
boats, it was deemed wise to await the freezing over of the 
river before attempting a movement into Pennsylvania. 

Glancing for a moment at the Hessian force in Burlington 
County, New Jersey, we find that (December 19) Colonel 

' Ford's Writings of George Washington, vol. v. p. 109. 
2 Part ii. No. 16. 


von Donop, accompanied by Colonel von Block, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Sterling and a strong patrol, went as far as Mount 
Holly for the purpose of getting a correct military idea of 
the country. On his return to Bordentown the next day, 
Colonel von Doriop received a letter from Colonel Rail, giv- 
ing him the incidents of the previous day at the post of 
Trenton,^ complaining of the exposed nature of his right 
flank, and noting the activity of the American scouts. 

On the following day General Grant wrote Colonel von 
Donop a letter ^ in English, and as Lieutenant-Colonel Ster- 
ling had not returned to Bordentown, Colonel von Donop 
must have had difficulty in reading it. It gave routine news, 
referred to the scarcity of forage, and the large detachment 
which Colonel Rail sent to carry his letter to General Grant. 

Before von Donop received this letter, however, he had 
written General Grant a communication in French to the 
effect that a contemplated attack upon General Putnam at 
Cooper's Creek had been abandoned for reasons mentioned.^ 

The same day, December 21, Colonel von Donop heard 
from Colonel von Block at Black Horse that the enemy had 
been seen that day in the village of Mount Holly. He sent 
an express rider to inform Colonel Rail of this fact, so that 
if a simultaneous attack were designed by the American 
troops on both posts, he need not be surprised. 

Colonel von Donop did not leave Bordentown that day 
personally to investigate the report. In the afternoon he 
received a letter * from Rail, which informed him of the sin- 
gular fact that he had sent a force of one hundred men to 
take a single letter through to Princeton.^ 

Just before dark Colonel Rail sent another letter to his 
immediate commanding officer, in which he pleaded for the 
retention of one third of his command, and in this he suc- 

1 Part ii. No. 17. ^ Part ii. No. 18 

3 Part ii. No. 19. ^ Part ii. No. 20. 

5 It will be seen that Rail was criticised for this act by General 

8 Part ii. No. 21. 


Among the German documents at Marburg, Germany, 
there appears a letter written in French, but which has no 
indication of the writer, the recipient, or the place from which 
it was written. It is evident, however, from the style and 
the facts given, that it must have been written by Colonel von 
Donop, probably on the road to Mount Holly, to Major-Gen- 
eral Grant, and that it should have been dated December 21 
or 22.^ 

In the mean time General Grant's messenger was hurrying 
on to Trenton with a letter directly addressed, contrary to 
military usage, to Colonel Rail, in which he speaks slight- 
ingly of the American army, and depicts what he believes 
to be their desperate condition.^ 

That Saturday afternoon was a busy day at Bordentown 
as well as at Trenton. Lieutenant-Colonel Sterling sent 
Colonel von Donop two letters within three hours of each 
other.^ The one gives Colonel von Donop some informa- 
tion, and the other the advice for which he had asked. 

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 20, 21 and 
22, Colonel von Donop received much information from the 
loyalists of Burlington County as to the condition of the 
American army on the west bank of the Delaware River, 
and the movements of a party which they erroneously sup- 
posed was commanded by General Putnam and which was 
in the lower portion of Burlington and old Gloucester coun- 
ties. New Jersey. Some of these statements as made by 
the Tories are still on file in the archives of Marburg in Ger- 
many. It is interesting to note the style of this intelligence 
and the combination of truth and error thus furnished. 

Four of these documents have been copied and are given 

Captain Friedrich Heinrich Loray, of the Hessian chas- 
seurs, who had been stationed above Bordentown in close 
connection with Colonel Rail's picket at the drawbridge of 
Crosswicks Creek, reported that he had strengthened the 

' Part ii. No. 22. 2 Part ii. No. 23. 

2 Part ii. No. 24. ■* Part ii. No. 25. 


guard at the bridge and would look out for the rear of Rail's 

At four o'clock on Sunday morning, December 22, Colonel 
von Donop started for Black Horse. When he reached that 
village he was informed that the enemy had withdrawn 
during the night and had left only a picket at the meeting 
house on the north side of Mount Holly. This seems to 
have satisfied him, for soon after the noon hour he left 
Black Horse on his return to Bordentown. It was two 
o'clock of the same afternoon, and he had just entered 
his headquarters there, when he was startled by the alarm 
given by the little three-pounder which he remembered 
stood in front of " The Sun " inn at Black Horse. A few 
moments afterward he heard the signal gun fired at Mans- 
field Square by the von Linsingen battalion. Again, after 
sending an express rider to Colonel Rail, he mounted his 
horse for another ride to Black Horse. On arriving there 
he found all the troops under arms, and he was informed 
that soon after he had left the village in the morning some 
four or five hundred rebels had made an attack on the picket 
at Rancocas bridge and had driven away the sergeant and 
twelve men of the Forty-second British regiment who 
were stationed at a small house close to the bridge. Two 
of the men of the regiment were badly wounded in this 
encounter. On hearing of this attack Captain Ernst von 
Eschwege and his grenadier company of the von Linsingen 
battalion hastened to their rescue. This company also had 
a soldier wounded, but they brought the affair to an end. 

Colonel von Donop spent the night of December 22 at 
the tavern at Black Horse, and the next morning he started 
for Mount Holly. He also ordered the Forty-second British 
regiment and the battalions von Block and von Linsingen 
to .accompany him. On nearing the church on the road 
to the village of Mount Holly, he descried a detachment of 
American militia, and he directed a few shots to be fired at 
them from the three-pounders. Colonel von Donop states 
1 Part ii. No. 26. 


that three of the enemy were either wounded or killed by 
this firing, but he lost none of his men. The militia re- 
treated in the direction of Moorestown. He then stationed 
the Forty-second regiment and the von Block battalion in 
Mount Holly for the purpose of gathering forage and stores. 

Glancing again at Colonel Rail at Trenton, we find that 
(December 22) General Leslie ordered a part of his com- 
mand, the First light infantry battalion, to patrol as far as 

Colonel Rail immediately reported this movement to 
Colonel von Donop. It seems that Rail could not resist 
the temptation to indulge in a little sarcasm at the expense 
of his British superior officer : — 

Sir : ' 

General Leslie sent to-day the First Battalion of Light 
Infantry to Trenton. He thought that a battalion of my 
command had marched from here. As there were no more 
attacks on this post I have sent the battalion back. A 
letter from General Grant is enclosed. He has also written 
me and what makes me pleased is that he knows the 
strength of the enemy thirty miles off, better than we do 
here. He writes me the enemy are naked, hungry and 
very weak and that it is not necessary to place troops at 
Maiden head. Rall. 

Trenton 22nd of December 1776. 

General Grant wrote an interesting letter to Colonel von 
Donop, December 23. It is doubtful if the beer which he 
promised was ever issued to the men. 

Brunswick 23rd Dec. 1776. 
Sir : 

The heavy Artillery is at Amboy with your fourth Bat- 
talion Grenadiers. Sir Wm. Erskine is gone to put them in 
motion, he is to acquaint me when every thing is ready and 
1 Part ii. No. 27. 



you shall be informed what Day they march that you may 
make a move to cover them. 

We are all in a great Favour at home. His Majesty has 
ordered Spruce Beer to be issued to the Troops without 
any stoppage, if we cannot get spruce, we must contrive to 
make small Beer, a Brewer here has undertaken to serve 


the Troops, at Ten shilling Currency for a Quarter Cask, 
containing thirty four Gallons, that will amount nearly to a 
penny Currency for a Quart to each man a Day, will you be 
kind enough to inform me if you can get any Body to 
undertake it upon the same terms. 

I am anxious to get the Waggons I mentioned to you. 
We cannot depend upon the navigation of the river rariton 
and without Waggons from your District I shall not be able 
to keep you and Gen. Leslie's Corps supplied. 


Be so good as to leave as much of the Country upon 
your right as you can to Gen. Leslie as I have directed him 
not to take any Forage in the country from Princeton to 
this place. 

I have the honour to be, Sir, 

Your most obedt, h'ble servant 

James Grant. 


Leaving New Jersey and the cantonments of the Hessian 
soldiery, and looking again at the American army in Bucks 
County, Pennsylvania, it is well to give in full the text of 
what is known as the "Pomroy letter." ^ Colonel Joseph 
Reed, the adjutant-general of the Continental army, having 
been sent to Bristol by General Washington on special 
service, urged upon his chief the importance of an imme- 
diate crossing of the river. By this time Washington had 
left the house of William Keith, and had come down to 
the river bank that he might procure earlier intelligence 
and quickly consult with his subordinate officers. He dated 
his letters of December 20 and the three days following, 
"At Camp above Trenton Falls," and by this he evidently 
meant the camp of General Lord Stirling at Beaumonts 
near McKonkey's Ferry, and about ten miles above Trenton 
Ferry. He did not return to Keith's house until Christmas. 

As soon as Washington received the " Pomroy " letter 
he sent for Reed to come to his headquarters, when the 
intended movement on the Hessian outposts was fully 
explained. On his return to Bristol Colonel Reed held 
a consultation with Colonel Cadwalader, after which he 
crossed the river at night with Lieutenant-Colonel John Cox 
of the Philadelphia Associators to see Colonel Samuel 
Grifhn. They found him quite ill. His expedition had 
been only partially successful, as will hereafter appear. On 
Reed's return to Bristol he received a letter ^ from General 
Washington (probably written at Lord Stirling's quarters at 
Beaumonts) giving full details of the proposed movement on 

The plan stated in Colonel Reed's letter, and casually 
1 Part ii. No. 28. 2 p^rt ii. No. 29. 


alluded to in the first line of General Washington's com- 
munication, of an attack by Colonel Cadwalader and 700 of 
his men on the Hessian troops near Mount Holly was not 
carried out. During the third week in December Major- 
General Putnam sent Colonel Samuel Griffin with a small 
command of about 600 militia and volunteers, including two 
companies of Virginia troops, to make a movement against 
the Hessian advance through the county of Gloucester and 
into Burlington County, New Jersey. Colonel Griffin was a 
deputy adjutant-general of the flying camp, and he had been 
announced in general orders, December 14, 1776, as adju- 
tant-general to the troops in and about Philadelphia. He 
made his headquarters at Haddonfield, and then began some 
slight demonstration on the outposts near Moorestown, a 
few miles from Mount Holly, and applied to the American 
force at Bristol for two or three hundred volunteers and two 
pieces of artillery. About this time he was unfortunately 
taken sick, and so inefficient was his command that the 
expedition proved almost fruitless. However, as we have 
already seen, it took Colonel von Donop and two of his regi- 
ments away from his headquarters at Bordentown, and for 
four days fixed his attention upon the little force in front of 
him, thus diverting it from Trenton, where the real attack 
was to be made. 

From Joseph Galloway's " Letters to a Nobleman on the 
Conduct of the War in the Middle Colonies," we quote the 
following : — 

" In order to draw Colonel de Donop from his post at 
Bordentown, and to prevent his supporting Colonel Raile at 
the time of the assault, he sent a corps of 450 militia, many 
of whom were boys picked up in Philadelphia and the coun- 
ties of Gloucester and Salem, to Mount Holly, with orders 
not to fight, but fly as soon as the effect of the manoeuvre 
had taken place. The plan succeeded. Colonel de Donop 
marched against this insignificant part of the rebel force 
with his whole corps of 2000 men (eighty left at Bordentown 
excepted), down to Mount Holly, twelve miles from his post 


and eighteen from Trenton, the post he ought to have been 
at hand to support. The rebel corps immediately fled, and 
dispersed on his approach ; and yet, instead of immediately 
returning to Bordentown to support Colonel Raile, he re- 
mained loitering two days in the neighbourhood of Burling- 
ton, without having a single enemy to oppose." 

An interesting incident may not inappropriately be re- 
ferred to at this point in the history of the campaign. The 
adjutant-general of the Continental army, by direction of 
General Washington, made an effort to prevent the destruc- 
tion of the town of Burlington, New Jersey, which if occu- 
pied by the Hessian troops was in danger of suffering from 
a bombardment by the American fleet. 

On the 20th day of December, Colonel Joseph Reed 
addressed a letter to Colonel von Donop from the quarters 
of Colonel Cadwalader, the post commander in Bristol. 

This letter, found among the German archives at Mar- 
burg, Germany, and never before published, fully exonerates 
Colonel Reed from the charge made by the historian Ban- 
croft and others, of carrying on an illicit correspondence 
with the enemy. Surely if Washington had been induced 
to "make some propositions on the subject," it was right, it 
was the duty of his chief staff officer to attempt to execute 
his instructions. The letter is as follows : — 

Bristol Dec. 20, 1776 
Sir : 

The peculiar situation of the Town of Burlington exposed 
to hostilities from both parties has induced General Wash- 
ington to make you some propositions on this subject. For 
this Purpose I will tomorrow do myself the honour of wait- 
ing on you at the time and Place you will please to appoint. 
I have the honour to be with the greatest respect Sir 
Your most obedient and very h'le servant 

Jos: Reed 
Adj. General of the Continental Army. 

Colonel von Donop immediately replied that his situation 


was such that it would not admit of his leaving his post at 
present for the purpose of the interview. The truth is that 
the heavy artillery not having arrived, the question did not 
press itself strongly upon Colonel von Donop ; but on the 
Tuesday following, thinking an interview with Colonel Reed 
advisable, he wrote him this letter : — 

Mount holly Dec 24th 1776 
Sir : 

In consequence of my Letter to you in answer to yours of 
20th Inst, relative to the peculiar situation of the Town of 
Burlington at present I am to inform you, if it is agreeable, 
that I shall meet you at John Antrims about half way be- 
twixt this place and Burlington to hear any proposition you 
may have to make with regard to that place at 1 2 o'clock 
tomorrow forenoon, two of my Chasseurs shall be ready to 
attend you as a safe Guard at Burlington to the place ap- 
pointed. — • 

I am Sir — 

Your most obed. & most humble serv. 

Carl de Donop 

To Jos. Reed, Esq. 

P. S. — To prevent any Doubt on your part of your safety 
an Officer will accompany the two Chasseurs with a Flag to 
your house in the City and you may bring any Officer with 
you, you please. — 

Colonel Reed was in Philadelphia on Christmas day, and 
an express rider was sent for him. Colonel Cadwalader 
thought it advisable to reply to the communication himself, 
which he did in the following letter : — 

Bristol, 25th Dec 1776. — 

As Col. Reed is not at this Post at present, I opened the 

Letter sent here with a Flag, directed to him. There is no 

other person here so fully acquainted with the Business he 


proposed mentioning to you at the Interview he requested. 
I expect he will return to-morrow morning to this Post, and 
he will then request you to name an other Time and Place 
which may be convenient to you. — 
I am, Sir, with great respect 

Your obed't humble servant 

John Cadwalader 

Colonel. — 
P. S. — I did not receive the 
Flag today till half past 
ten A. M. — 

Colonel Reed, although he returned to Bristol on Christ- 
mas afternoon, did not resume the correspondence. He was 
then too busy in aiding the attempt to cross the Delaware 
River and stir up the cantonments of Colonel von Donop. 
In the diary of the loyalist Margaret Morris of Burlington, 
we find under date of December 26 a reference to this sub- 
ject: "Very stormy: we fear Gen. Reed will not meet the 
Count today." 

This correspondence, although by direction of Washing- 
ton — and therefore the subordinate officer is altogether free 
from military criticism — has been made the occasion by sev- 
eral writers of strongly expressed doubts of Reed's loyalty 
to the American cause. The first attack was made by Dr. 
Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia, under the signature of 
"Brutus," in the "Independent Gazetteer," September 3, 
1782. General Reed thought that his former comrade. Gen- 
eral Cadwalader, was the author, and charged him with it in 
a communication dated November i, 1782. General Cad- 
walader replied early in the year 1783, as we find from a 
singular letter ^ most adroitly written to him by a friend of 
both parties. Colonel George Morgan, and dated April 17, 

1 Never published, but now in possession of the Hon. Garret D. W. 
Vroom of Trenton, New Jersey. 

^ General Cadwalader expected General Reed to challenge him, but 


On the day before Christmas, Acting Quartermaster-Gen- 
eral Gamble of the British army issued a circular to the 
inhabitants of Hunterdon and Burlington counties. The 
stores and forage which were so much needed for the British 
troops in the cantons of Trenton and Bordentown, as well as 
for General Grant's forces at Brunswick, do not seem to 
have been forthcoming. The price list annexed to the cir- 
cular is of interest as showing the cost of food and forage 
at that period in the war.^ 

It was a dark hour in our country's history, a crisis which 
had to be met with unflinching courage. The situation was 
a grave one, and unless some decisive blow were struck, 
regardless of the consequences of possible defeat, the cause 

Reed, conscious of his own innocence, determined that this should come, 
if at all, from General Cadwalader. In the year 1842 the Valley Forge 
Letters -were published, followed in 1847 by a carefully prepared bio- 
graphy of General Reed, written by his grandson, William B. Reed. 
The controversy was renewed in 1856 in a pamphlet entitled Nuts for 
Future Historians to Crack. In 1866 the Hon. George Bancroft pub- 
lished the ninth volume of his history of the United States, in which 
he distinctly charged General Reed with being untrue to the cause of 
national independence. In 1867, in a monograph entitled yoj-^/^ Reed, 
a Historical Essay, Mr. Bancroft asserted his belief that Reed had 
accepted protection, under the proclamation of the brothers Howe, 
from Colonel von Donop. Mr. William B. Reed replied to this severe 
attack in an able argument. Mr. Bancroft followed with a lengthy 
paper on the subject, and Mr. Reed closed the controversy with a strong 
refutation of each point in the attack. Mr. Bancroft attempted to sus- 
tain his opinion by quoting from the diary of Colonel von Donop of 
December 21, 1776, wherein the Hessian commander refers to " Colonel 
Reed, who lately received a Protection," etc., etc. In the year 1876 it 
was discovered beyond the slightest doubt that the Colonel Reed who 
did take " protection " from Colonel von Donop was Colonel Charles 
Read of the Burlington County (New Jersey) militia, and not Colonel 
Joseph Reed, Washington's adjutant-general. Mr. Bancroft acknow- 
ledged the mistake he had made, and an account of this discovery was 
published by the author of this- work in a monograph entitled The 
Reed Controversy — Further Facts with Reference to the Character of 
Joseph Reed, Adjutant-General on the Staff of George Washington. 
Printed for private distribution, 2d edition, Trenton, 1885. 
1 Part ii. No. 30. 



of national freedom would be irretrievably lost. The over- 
whelming adversity, the desperate straits which confronted 
the young nation on every hand, were quite enough to dis- 
hearten the boldest patriot. A general depression hung over 


the country like a dark and foreboding cloud. Yet between 
liberty and defeat stood a little army of desperate men 
devoted to their chief, soldiers who still stood by him, who 
still hoped that his master mind would devise some plan by 
which he might snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It 
was to Washington that all hearts turned in this hour of 
misfortune and disaster, and he fully merited their trust and 


confidence. Not for a moment did he entertain any idea of 
abandoning the sacred cause. With calm dignity of manner 
and an undaunted spirit he moved among his men encour- 
aging them in their sufferings, and cheering them by the 
hope of a favorable change in the near future. It is doubt- 
ful if anywhere in history can be cited such an example of 
the head of a dispirited force, of a chieftain deserted by a 
Congress which was preparing to throw on him the entire 
responsibility of the war, but who turned toward his troops 
a cheerful countenance, and looked forward with confidence 
to a brighter day. 

During this period of depression General Washington was 
busily engaged in procuring reinforcements for his little army, 
and in this respect he was in a degree successful. The men 
who had already joined him arid those who were marching 
from different parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Mary- 
land toward his camp were true men, thoroughly impressed 
with the idea of patriotic duty, and clearly understanding 
the value of victory won in that critical hour, and the price 
which must be paid for defeat.^ 

Thomas Paine, the author of the tract called " Common 
Sense," and who is thought to have been temporarily attached 
to the staff of Maj or-General Greene as a volunteer aide-de- 
camp during this campaign, wrote, while in the American 
camp, that number of " The American Crisis " which made 
it famous. In this stirring appeal, which was published in 
the " Pennsylvania Journal," December 19, 1776, he expressed 
the feeling then uppermost in every patriotic heart : " These 
are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and 

' Elkanah Watson, writing at this time at Plymouth, Massachusetts, 
refers to this period of the struggle in these words : " We looked upon 
the contest as near its close, and considered ourselves a vanquished 
people. The young men present determined to emigrate and seek 
some spot where liberty dwelt and where the arm of British tyranny 
could not reach us. Major Thomas animated our desponding spirits 
with the assurance that Washington was not dismayed, but evinced the 
same serenity and confidence as ever. Upon him rested all our hopes." 
— Men and Times of the Revolution, or Memoirs of Elkanah Watson, 
p. 24. 



the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the ser- 
vice of his country ; but he that stands it now, deserves the 
thanks of man and woman." This address was ordered to 
be read at the head of each regiment, and the effect of its 
strong, patriotic sentences was apparent upon the spirits of 
the army. 

The commander-in-chief had divided his force into three 
separate corps, one sta- 
tioned at Bristol, another 
at Trenton Ferry, and the 
third and largest, which 
included all the remain- 
ing troops in Pennsylva- 
nia, he posted for several 
miles on the Delaware 
River north of Yardley's 

Colonel John Cadwala- 
der, as the senior colo- 
nel of the Philadeljjhia 
battalions of Associators, 
acting as a general officer, 
commanded the division 
from the Bordentown Fer- 
ry to Dunk's Ferry, with 
headquarters at Bristol. i 
Colonel Cadwalader's division consisted of about 1800 men.^ 

1 He was a native of Philadelphia, and formerly had been the cap- 
tain of the "Greens" or "The Silk Stocking Company," wliich was 
composed of young men of high social position in that city. He was 
an officer of polished manners and a bold, brave soldier. Twice he was 
appointed a brigadier-general of the Continental army, — February 21, 
1777, and September 10, 177S, — but he declined both commissions. He 
was made a brigadier-general of the Pennsylvania militia April 5, 1777, 
and so continued until the close of the war. Washington characterized 
him as "a man of ability, a good disciplinarian, firm in his principles, 
and of intrepid bravery." He distinguished himself on the German- 
town and Monmouth battlefields. 

- Part ii. No. 31. 



General James Ewing commanded the division of Penn^ 
sylvania and New Jersey militia ^ which was posted along 
the river from Yardley's P^erry to Bond's Ferry and the 
ferry to Bordentown. His headquarters was at Colvin's 


]i"erry House, which still stands opposite to what was then 
called the Trenton Landing.- 

Brigadier-General Philemon Dickinson, commanding the 
New Jersey militia, was with General Ewing in command of 

' Part ii. No. 32. 

- General Ewing was born at Lanca.ster, Pennsylvania, and entered 
military life under (General Braddock in 1755. On the 4th of July 
1776, he was made a brigadier-general of Pennsylvania militia, and in 
this campaign was in command of the Pennsylvania troops of the flying 
camp. The identity of this officer has been strangely confused in his 
tory. General Wilkinson, in his Mcjiwirs, calls him Irvin. Dr. Gordon 
refers to him as Erwing. Botta spells his name Irwin; and Marshall 
writes it Irvine. 



a small body of the soldiers of that State. They were all 
posted at Yardley's Ferry and along the river bank for one 
mile south of that place.* 

General Washington took special command of the remain- 
ing corps, selecting therefrom a body of about 2400 men 
for the proposed expedition. The remainder he left to 


guard the camp equipage at the several stations already 
mentioned ^ 

' General Dickinson was one of the truest patriots of the Revolution. 
Possessed of an ample fortune, he devoted his wealth, his time, and his • 
talents to the glorious struggle. He distinguished himself in many 
engagements, and especially at the battle of Monmouth. He was made 
a major-general June 6, 1777. He was chosen a member of Congress 
from the State of Delaware February 2, 1782, and died in Trenton, 
New Jersey, February 4, 1S09. 

2 General Washington's staff consisted of : Joseph Reed, colonel and 
adjutant-general ; Thomas Mifflin, brigadier-general and quartermaster- 
general ; Henry Kno.x, colonel and chief of artillery; Joseph Trumbull, 
colonel and commissary-general; William Palfrey, lieutenant-colonel 
and paymaster-general; George Baylor, lieutenant-colonel and aide-de- 


Washington called his general officers i together in council 
at his heaclquartei-s at William Keith's house, (Hi Knowles's 
Creek, a few miles tVom Newtown. The following officers 
were present : Major-Generals John Sullivan and Nathanael 
Greene ; Brigadier-Generals Lord Stirling, Roche de Fermoy, 


Hugh Mercer, Adam Stephen and Arthur St, Clair ; Colonels 
Paul D. Sargent, John Stark, John Glover and Henry Knox. 

camp: William Oravson, lieutenant-colonel and aide-de-camp ; Samuel 
B. Webb. lieutenant-colonel and aide-de-camp; Richard Carey, lieuten- 
ant-colonel and aide-de-camp; John Fitzgerald, lieutenant-colonel and 
aide-de-camp (he was in commission as captairL Third Virginia Conti- 
nental regiment, February 8, 177O, and must have been announced as 
lieutenant-colonel and aide-de-camp in November, 1776); Robert H. 
Harrison, lieutenant-colonel and military secretary; Tench Tilghman, 
captain Penns"\ivania battalion of the flying camp, and acting as 
assistant secretary and volunteer aide-de-camp; David Henly, lieu- 
tenant-colonel of the Fifth Massachusetts regiment, assigned to tem- 
porary duty with this staff. 

' For biographical sketches of these officers see Part ii. No. 33. 


The Reverend Dr. Alexander Macwhorter, the patriotic pas- 
tor of the Presbyterian Church of Newark, New Jersey, 
who had followed the army on the retreat through that 
State, was also present, and took part in the deliberations of 
the council of war. At this meeting the plan of recrossing 
the Delaware and making an attack upon the enemy's post 
was discussed, and finally agreed upon. The crossing of the 
river seemed to be the greatest difficulty ; but Colonel Glover 
told General Washington not to be troubled about that, as 
his boys would manage it. It is said that at one of these 
meetings Colonel Stark, who, although not a brigade com- 
mander, was an officer of great experience, gave his opinion 
of the past conduct of the army and their present situation 
in these pertinent words : " Your men have too long been 
accustomed to place their dependence for safety upon spades 
and pickaxes. If you ever expect to establish the independ- 
ence of these States you must teach them to place depend- 
ence upon their firearms and courage." 

The inspection of the army, December 22, 1776, shows on 
the rolls 679 officers and 10,804 enlisted men. From this 
return 5319, not quite one half the force, must be taken for 
men sick, wounded, on extra duty, or on furlough, which 
leaves 6164 men present for duty. Add to these the four 
regiments from the Northern army, which came with Major- 
General Gates, estimated strength 500 men, and who were 
then brigaded under General St. Clair, but who evidently, 
and without apparent reason, were not included in this 
inspection ; looo men belonging to the battalions of the Phila- 
delphia Associators, and perhaps 400 of the New Jersey 
militia, and a detachment of the Pennsylvania militia which 
joined the army on Monday, December 23, and the result is 
a force of 8000 soldiers, with say 6000 effective men, — the 
number stated by Lord Stirling to the Hessian officers in 
his custody after the battle of Trenton. A careful examina- 
tion of the return as printed in Force's " American Archives," 
5th series, vol. iii. p. 1401, shows it to have been incorrectly 
added in several instances, and we think the result is more 


accurate as just stated.^ These troops were scattered along 
thirty miles on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River, 
and prepared for a dash upon the enemy's outposts. 

The New England brigade at Bristol was poorly provided 
with camp equipage and blankets, and had meagre stores of 
any kind. The Philadelphia battalions, so near their homes, 
were in good condition for a winter campaign. The detach- 
ments of militia at Trenton Ferry were not furnished with 
the necessities for encamping, marching, or fighting in an 
inclement season ; but it is generally understood that they 
were expected to serve only for a short period. The Conti- 
nental regiments on the river above the ferry were greatly 
in want of clothing and supplies. Many of the men were 
barefooted, as the commander of the First Pennsylvania 
rifle regiment said his organization certainly was, and Gen- 
eral Washington was obliged to send men about the country 
to beg and buy old clothing and blankets for his freezing 

The prospects were gloomy indeed for the little army 
which rallied around the standard of freedom. The right- 
eous cause for which they had taken up arms seemed in this 
decisive moment of the war about to suffer defeat, and 
visions of new levies of taxes began to appear to the men, 
while certain ardent officers caught fleeting glimpses of 
sequestered lands and the hangman's rope. 

1 A note in Sparks's Writings of Washington, vol. ii. p. 244, repeated 
in a note in Ford's The Writings of George Washingtoii, vol. v. p. 130, 
says that the return does not include Sullivan's division ; but surely the 
brigades of Colonels Hitchcock, Glover and Sargent were part of Gen- 
eral Lee's force, and composed the division which General Sullivan 
brought to General Washington's army. The four regiments from the 
Northern army are given as 1200 men; but General Gates, under or- 
ders, left part of his force at Morristown, under Brigadier-General 
McDougall, transferred afterward to the command of Brigadier-Gen- 
eral Maxwell, and he had but 500 effective men when he reached the 
main army. The Pennsylvania militia under Colonel Cadwalader at 
Bristol is numbered at 1800 men, but they were only 1000 men; the 
remaining 800 were the veteran troops of Colonel Hitchcock's brigade, 
and are enumerated in the return. 


About this time Captain Ephraim Anderson, who belonged 
to Colonel Israel Shreve's Second battalion, New Jersey 
Continental line, with a small party of recruits for that battal- 
ion, was doing himself and his men much credit by constant 
scouting tours through Hunterdon County, New Jersey. 

Dr. William Gordon, in his " History of the American 
War," speaks of a spy, apparently a rather simple youth, 
who was employed to go about among the soldiers in the 
village of Trenton, where he soon learned the strength and 
position of the Hessian forces. General de Fermoy received 
the report of the spy at his post on the river bank, and he 
dispatched a staff officer to communicate the facts to Gen- 
eral Washington. On receiving this information the general 
remarked, " Now is our time to clip their wings while they 
are so spread." 

By the aid of trusted officers of the militia of New Jersey, 
and by intelligence obtained from the patriot farmers of 
Hunterdon and Burlington counties, General Washington 
soon became familiar with the position, size and condition 
of the royal army. 

But it is a well-established tradition that the most reliable 
account of Colonel Rail's post at Trenton was given by 
Washington's spy, John Honeyman of Griggstown, Somer- 
set County. This man was of Scotch-Irish descent, and was 
a soldier in the body-guard of General Wolfe when that offi- 
cer fell at the storming of the Heights of Abraham. His 
neighbors called Honeyman the " Tory traitor ; " yet he was 
the trusted spy of the American chieftain. General Wash- 
ington had met John Honeyman when in camp on the Hack- 
ensack River in November, and the man had then agreed 
,to serve his country, within the British lines if necessary, 
by acting the part of a Tory, and by talking in favor of the 
British cause. As a butcher and a dealer in cattle, he began 
his trade with the English army, and at the same time ob- 
served their position, numbers, and probable movements. 
No one knew his real character but the commander-in-chief 
whom he was serving. His wife was shielded from the 


insult and injury which would otherwise have been offered by 
those patriots who thought her husband a traitor, by a letter 
which Washington had sent her. This letter was written 
in the "American Camp, November 1776," and addressed 
"To the good people of New Jersey and all others whom it 
may concern." It was ordered that "the wife and children 
of John Honeyman of Griggstown, the notorious Tory now 
within the British lines and probably acting the part of a 
spy," should be "protected from all harm and annoyance." 
But this order was to furnish "no protection to Honey- 
man himself." During the third week in December, John 
Honeyman was in and around Trenton trying to procure 
cattle from the farmers, and taking them into the village 
for slaughter. Having thoroughly informed himself as to 
the condition of the Hessian soldiery, he walked out, on the 
afternoon of December 22, on the River road, carrying his 
whip and a piece of rope in his hand, as if to hunt for cattle. 
About three miles from Trenton, while trying to lead off a 
cow he was seen by two American scouts, whom he had pre- 
viously observed, and whose attention had been attracted to 
him by the sharp crack of his cart whip. They captured him 
after a struggle, and, binding him with his own rope to one of 
their horses, went a few miles up the river, ferried him over, 
and delivered their prize at the headquarters of the army. 
He was taken to General Washington, who, after asking all 
the officers to withdraw, directed the guard around his quar- 
ters to shoot the prisoner if he tried to escape. A half 
hour's conversation then took place between the patriot spy 
and the American chief, after which Honeyman was placed 
in a log-house prison, and a court-martial was ordered for 
the morning. During the night, undoubtedly by some plan 
of General Washington, the spy escaped, eluded pursuit, 
recrossed the river to Trenton, and it is said told Colonel 
Rail of his capture and escape, giving him a doleful account 
of the condition of the American army. He then left Tren- 
ton, and wandered off to Brunswick, so that he might not 
be present at the capture of the village, lest he should be 


upbraided by the Hessians and lose his power of being use- 
ful to the American cause. There appears to be no doubt 
that the information given by him that winter night was 
the direct cause of the movement on Trenton three days 
afterward. He lived to be ninety-three years of age.^ 

We find by the minutes of the Council of Safety of New 
Jersey, December 5, 1777,^ that John Honeyman was ordered 
on that day to be committed to the " Trenton Gaol for High 
Treason," and that on December 20, 1777, although thought 
guUty of so heinous a crime he was allowed to enter into 
recognizance to appear at the next general quarter sessions, 
when he was released. His surety in this case was Jacob 
Hyer, a patriot soldier then on duty in the quartermaster's 
department of the Hunterdon County militia. John Honey- 
man evidently had a diificult r61e to play in serving his coun- 
try, for in June, 1778, he was again in trouble.^ 

In a letter of General Washington to Governor Living- 
ston, dated Valley Forge, January 20, 1778, in reference to 
three other Jersey spies who had been apprehended upon a 
supposition that they were carrying on an illegal correspond- 
ence with the enemy, he remarked : " You must be well 
convinced that it is indispensably necessary to bear the 
suspicion of being thought inimical ; and it is not in their 
power to assert their innocence, because that would get 
abroad and destroy the confidence which the enemy puts in 

The foolishly planned chain of cantonments and the 
weakly guarded posts of the enemy gave the American 

1 See article by the late Justice John Van Dyke of the New Jersey 
Supreme Court, entitled " An Unwritten Account of a Spy of Washing- 
ton," in Our Home, a monthly magazine published at Somerville, New 
Jersey, October, 1873. Also copy of letter of Justice Van Dyke to 
A. V. D. Honeyman, publisher of said magazine, dated January 6, 1874, 
On file in the adjutant-general's office at Trenton. This letter gives the 
authorities for the article just referred to. 

2 Minutes of the Council of Safety of New Jersey, Jersey City, 1872, 
pp. 169, 176. 

8 Part ii. No. 35. 


army the looked-for opportunity at least to attempt the re- 
trieval of its ill fortunes and the rescue of the State now lost 
to the authority of the people. General Washington was 
full of anxiety for the fate of the cause, which, as he after- 
wards said, " nothing but the infatuation of the enemy could 
have saved." He hoped now in some way to compel them 
to assume a less formidable shape, so as no longer to over- 
awe the entire State and threaten the city of Philadelphia.! 

At this time Trenton was a small village, and it derived 
its principal importance from the fact that it was at the 
head of sloop navigation at the falls of the Delaware River, 
and from its being on the main postal and transportation 
highway between New York and Philadelphia. Most of the 
stage travel in those days was across one or the other of 
the ferries at Trenton. Lieutenant Jacob Piel, the brigade 
adjutant of Colonel Rail, says the village contained about 
one hundred houses, and there appear to have been about 
seventy houses north of the Assunpink Creek, and scarcely 
thirty houses below the creek. At the time of the battle, 
quite a number of these houses had been deserted by their 
owners, and of course were quickly taken possession of by 
the Hessians. Most of the houses in the town were situated 
on the two main streets, then called King and Queen, but 
now known as Warren and Broad streets. These two 
streets, running nearly parallel, and almost north and south, 
united at a point north of the village, and from this junc- 
tion diverged to Pennington and to Maidenhead, now Law- 
renceville. Between these two roads leading out from the 

1 Lord Mahon in his History of England ^-ay^ that General Wash- 
ington received a visit from General Benedict Arnold about this time, 
and that Arnold suggested the surprise of the post of Trenton. This 
statement is certainly incorrect, as Arnold did not reach Washington's 
camp until December 20, and an attack on the enemy had been con- 
sidered and written about by General Washington a week previous. 
Moreover, General Washington sent General Arnold, the day after his 
arrival, to command troops being raised in New England, which he 
would hardly have done if the "surprise " had been of Arnold's sug- 

TRENTON IN 1776 91 

same point was the lane to the Beakes estate, and this is 
now called Princeton avenue. King street did not cross 
the Assunpink Creek, but with a curve to the east at 
Front street led into Queen street. There were two other 
important streets in Trenton at that time. One, Front 
street, began at Queen street, passed the lower end of 
King street, and thence turned northward near the barracks 
into the River road at what is now Willow street. The 
other, then called Second, but now State street, and running 
parallel to Front street, began at what is now the corner of 
State and Willow streets, crossed both King and Queen 
streets, and after passing the Presbyterian Church dwindled 
into a country road leading through an apple orchard to 
Samuel Henry's iron foundry and steel works on the creek. 
The Assunpink Creek, doubtless much larger then than 
now, was fordable at several places along the easterly side 
of the town, and it emptied into the Delaware River just 
below the falls. At the foot of Queen street a stone bridge 
spanned the creek, and from there led to the Trenton Ferry, 
to Crosswicks and Bordentown, to Allentown and Sand- 
town and the Quaker bridge. On either side of the creek 
there was rising ground, and on the south side considerable 
woods. The road leading from the bridge to the ferry was 
on the edge of what was then called the Bloomsbury Farm, 
formerly the residence of Chief Justice William Trent, the 
house being then temporarily occupied by Dr. William Bry- 
ant, a practicing physician, and afterward by Colonel John 
Cox of Philadelphia. This house is always referred to in 
German records as the " Doctor House." As we have 
stated, the town above the creek may be considered as 
bounded by what we call to-day the Creek, Montgomery 
street. Perry street and Willow street. All outside of these 
bounds was then in the suburbs of the village. There was 
a tavern on the Maidenhead road and there were several 
houses on the Pennington road, a few houses on King 
street north of the Enghsh Church, now St. Michael's 
Episcopal Church, and a few fine residences on the River 



road, yet all these were then considered as on the outskirts 
of the town. In the village were two or three prominent 
taverns, a stone barracks built by the province of New 
Jersey in the time of the French and Indian war, two frame 
churches, — the Presbyterian and the Methodist, — the 
English Church, of brick, the Friends' Meeting House, of 
brick, and the stone jail, now a part of the Trenton Bank. 
The entire village was considered a very open one, for the 
houses were greatly scattered. ^ 

As has been stated, Colonel Rail had opened his head- 
quarters in Trenton on the r4th day of December. His 
own quarters were in a large frame house on the west side 
of King street, nearly opposite the Enghsh Church. It 
was then occupied by Stacy Potts, a wealthy gentleman, who 
owned a large tannery near by, and a steel works on Petty's 
Run, near the river. This house was opposite to what is 
now Perry street, and the rectory of the Roman Catholic 
Bishop of Trenton was subsequently erected on its site. 
Colonel Rail was greatly pleased to be assigned the command 

' For more minute description of the village, the houses and the 
residents, see a pamphlet entitled Trenton One Hundred Years Ago^ by 
the author of this work. 







of this important post so close to the enemy. He thought 
that there he might gain new and still greater glory. When 
the subject of making a cantonment at Trenton was first 
considered, it was thought that to place a heavy picket there 
would be the wisest course ; but Colonel Rail claimed that 
his services around New York city entitled him to the com- 
mand of a brigade, and General Howe yielded to him and 
gave him verbal as well as written orders through Colonel 
von Donop to assume command of the post. Even at this 
time it was Colonel Rail's intention to wait until the river 
froze and then to cross it and by a forced march attack and 
capture the city of Philadelphia. 

The Rail grenadier regiment was quartered near the cor- 
ner of King and Second, now Warren and State streets. 



They occupied the jail, now the Trenton Bank, the post- 
office on the corner above, Francis Witt's City Tavern on 
the southwest corner, Henry Drake's Bull Head Tavern on 
Second street, the houses of William Pidgeon and Abraham 
G. Claypoole on King street, and many other dwelling-houses 
in the same locality. This regiment wore a dark blue uni- 


The von Lossberg fusilier regiment, which had been de- 
tained a few days at EHzabeth Town, reached Trenton on 
the morning of December 14, but the Rail and the von 
Knyphausen regiments had arrived there December 12. 
The von Lossberg regiment immediately went into quarters 
on King street, the same street in which the Rail regiment 


was Stationed, and there held the right wing of the canton- 
ment. Some of the companies, however, were much scat- 
tered. The main portion, consisting of the body, the von 
Toos and the Scheffer companies, was lodged in the Eng- 
lish Church and in the houses of Micajah How, on the east 
side, of Colonel Isaac Smith, Thomas Barnes and Miss Re- 
becca Coxe, on the west side of the street, and other smaller 
buildings adjacent. One of the companies, commanded by 
Captain von Altenbockum, was at Alexander Calhoun's house 
and in his store on the Pennington road, just at the head of 
the road to Beatty's Ferry, now Calhoun street. Another, 
the von Hanstein company, was at Jonathan Richmond's 
inn, just below the Assunpink bridge. Altogether this regi- 
ment had the use of sixteen buildings. The men wore 
bright red coats, resembling somewhat the British foot. 


The von Knyphausen regiment was stationed at the corner 
of Queen and Second streets and the vicinity. It occupied 
the Presbyterian Church on Second street, the village school 
adjacent, the houses of William and Ellet Tucker and Joseph 
Milnor on the corners of Queen and Second streets, and the 
houses of Thomas Tindall, John Bellerjeau, Thomas Ryall 
and Joshua Newbold, one square north and one square south 
of the present City Hall. The men of this regiment were 
dressed in a plain black uniform, and presented a very sombre 
appearance, as contrasted with the other soldiers of Rail's 

Each of the five companies in every Hessian regiment had 
five or six houses assigned to it, so it is easily seen that had 
it not been for the public buildings every private house in 
the village would have been occupied by the Hessian troops. 

The twenty British dragoons, members of the Sixteenth 
regiment. Queen's light dragoons, a detachment of which, as 
we have already seen, had captured Major-General Charles 
Lee of the American army, used as their quarters the 
Friends' Meeting House on Third street, now Hanover. This 
building, which still stands, had been used July 5, 1776, as 
the place of meeting of the provincial convention of New 
Jersey, and soldiers stationed in the village, or passing 
through Trenton from Pennsylvania to the army at Wood- 
bridge and Amboy, had repeatedly taken possession of the 
house as barracks. Both of these acts being inconsistent 
with the religious principles of the Society of Friends, and 
"wars and fightings " or conventions which led thereto being 
their special abhorrence, they protested in the Chesterfield 
monthly meeting against such abuse of their rights and 
privileges. But the Hessians did not ask their permission, 
and their wishes in the matter were not consulted. 

The quarters of the fifty yagers, who dressed in green 
with lapels of crimson, were in a small part of the barracks 
which had been built during the French and Indian war, and 
which were situated where the River road entered Front 
street. Their duty was to protect the canton from the 




direction of the River road. A large number of the yagers 
were ahvays out at the picket post at General Philemon 
Dickinson's country seat, about a half mile from the village, 
and just before the battle fifty yagers were placed on duty 
there, where they occupied the house, the servants' quarters 
and the barns. A part of this house still stands and is now 
the homestead of the Atterbury estate within the city limits. 
The barracks referred to are also standing, although a por- 
tion of them has been taken down for the purpose of extend- 
ing Front street. In addition to the yagers, who occupied 
them for a short time, these barracks furnished accommoda- 
tion to the families of refugee Tories from Burlington and 
Monmouth counties, which were seeking the protection of 
the Hessian arms. 

The detachments of artillery were quartered in the ]\Ieth- 
odist Church on Queen street, nearly opposite Church alley, 
and in the English Church on King street. Each of the three 
regiments had two brass three-pounder guns, and during the 


■first three or four days' occupancy of Trenton these" six 
pieces were parked in the graveyard back of the English 
Church. They were afterward placed in front of the guard- 
house, which still stands. This guard-house, then owned by 
Pontius Delare Stille, was the next house north of the church 
and a few steps from Rail's headquarters. On account of 
the narrowness of the street the guns were placed one -behind 
the other in the middle of King street, and there they stood 
when the attack on the town commenced. All the artillery- 
men wore blue coats with crimson lapels and white border. 

The brigade hospital was opened in the parsonage of the 
Presbyterian Church, of which the Reverend Dr. Elihu 
Spencer was pastor. This house was on the north side of 
Third street, now Hanover, and was about one hundred feet 
east of Queen street. During the few days of their stay at 
the parsonage the Hessians did considerable damage to the 
library, furniture and sermons of the pastor. The stable 
connected with the parsonage, and the fences around the 
parsonage lot and the burying-ground surrounding the church 
were used for firewood. ^ 

' Hall's History of the Presbyterian Church in Trenton, New Jersey, 
p. 266. 


About this time Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer and Major 
von Dechow asked Colonel Rail to send to New York for 
more clothing for their regiments, for they both considered 
that the men in their commands had not sufficient under- 
wear to withstand the rigors of the approaching winter. 
But Colonel Rail made light of this request, and remarked 
that he would soon run barefoot over the ice on the river 
and take the city of Philadelphia. Turning to Major von 
Dechow, who had again urged the necessity for more cloth- 
ing, he told him that if he did not care to share in the honors 
which awaited them, he might immediately retire from the 
post. But Scheffer and von Dechow were much depressed 
over the result of this interview and the careless manner of 
his reply to their request. 

The next day Captain Reinhard Jacob Martin of the Hes- 
sian engineers stopped at Trenton on his way to Borden- 
town, and called during the day on Lieutenant-Colonel Schef- 
fer. In the course of this visit Major von Hanstein and 
Major von Dechow came to Scheffer's quarters, and joined 
with him in representing the unsafe condition of Rail's bri- 
gade. They all predicted to Captain Martin the ruin of 
these three regiments unless some change were made, and 
they expressed the desire to be relieved from the responsi- 
bility of such a calamity. Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer com- 
plained that many of his men were without good shoes, and 
that their clothing was not suitable for a severe winter. 
Before leaving these officers, Captain Martin promised that 
as soon as he had completed the business which called him 
to Bordentown, he would see them again in Trenton on his 
way to New York, and take a letter which they would join 
in writing to Lieutenant-General Philip von Heister, the 


commander of all the Hessian troops in America. This 
letter was accordingly written, and a copy kept by Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Scheffer, which document finally fell into 
the hands of the Americans. When Captain Martin came 
back to Trenton he took the letter, and promised to inform 
General von Heister personally of all the particulars of the 
situation as it appeared to him. He remained two days in 
Trenton, because he feared to go forward on the road to 
Princeton without an escort. However, he arrived in New 
York on the afternoon of December 24, and sent the letter 
to the old general that evening. On Christmas day he called 
at the headquarters of General von Heister, and gave him 
such impressions of the situation as he had obtained. But 
although the general, who had received General Howe's 
promise to relieve the regiments by the middle of January, 
was disposed carefully to look after the preservation of the 
troops under his command, it was then too late for him to 
avert the impending disaster. 

The duties of the Hessians in Trenton were varied and 
severe. While it would have been proper and eminently 
wise to have guarded all the crossings on the river, there 
were not men enough in the command to be spared for this 
duty. Many of the companies (Captain von Altenbockum's 
company is mentioned in this connection in German re- 
cords) were under arms three successive nights and then off 
duty for one night. For over a week no man in the brigade 
passed two consecutive nights without a call for some spe- 
cial service. For some time it was a daily custom to call 
for extra details of one hundred men from each regiment. 
During the early occupation of the town it was ordered that 
at four o'clock in the afternoon all the companies of each 
regiment should turn out at the houses where their respec- 
tive commandants were quartered, stack their arms, place a 
sentinel over them, and that each man should then go to 
his quarters under orders to remain dressed, with belts never 
loosened and only leggings removed, until daylight. The men 
could not stand this duty long, and they soon began to sicken 



and were taken one by one to the hospital. All the horses 
belonging to the artillery had to be always in readiness to 
be hitched to the light guns, and the harness was never re- 
moved from them day or night while they were in Trenton. 
Toward the last days of the Hessian occupation of the 
village the duties were changed, and at evening parade a 
regiment was put on duty for a night and a day. In this 
way the von Lossberg regiment performed the duty on De- 
cember 23, the von Knyphausen on December 24, the Rail 
regiment on December 25, and of course the Rail regiment 
was still the regiment " of the day," and was under arms 
when the surprise occurred. 

The picket stations of the Rail brigade were six in num- 
ber, — on the Maidenhead, Pennington, and River roads, at 
the Assunpink Creek bridge, on the road to Trenton Ferry, 
and at the drawbridge over Crosswicks Creek. 

The principal picket of the Trenton cantonment was at 


the Fox Chase Tavern, kept by Mrs. Joseph Bond, "on the 
Maidenhead road, now Brunswick avenue, and nearly oppo- 
site to what is at the present time the head of Montgomery 
street. It consisted of one commissioned officer, three 
under officers, and about seventy men. This picket did 
sentinel and watch duty in the town. A captain was always 
at this post, on duty as inspector. 

The Pennington road picket, comprising one corporal and 
fifteen men, was posted at the house of Richard and Arthur 
Howell, who were coopers by trade. This post was relieved 
from time to time from the Maidenhead road picket. 

The picket on the River road was at the country seat of 
Brigadier-General Philemon Dickinson of the New Jersey 
militia, and was about half a mile from the barracks and 
from ths village. General Dickinson, as we have stated, was 
on the opposite side of the river with some of his militia, 
and it was no doubt interesting for him to notice through 
his field-glass the movements of his country's enemies as 
they took possession of his hospitable mansion and its lovely 
surroundings. It is said that on one occasion General Dick- 
inson- saw the Hessians despoiling his wine vault, and the 
temptation to send a shot among them was great ; but a 
sergeant suggested to the general that they might retaliate 
by burning his house. It may be remarked that this place 
was purchased July 30, 1776. This investment was therefore 
made between the dates of the Declaration of Independence 
and the battle of Trenton, and it shows the confidence of 
General Dickinson in the final result of the war when he 
placed funds in a property which lay so near the track of 
contending armies, and on the highway between two great 
cities which were the objective points for British attack. 
The picket occupied the homestead, the servants' quarters 
and the barns, and the horse of one of the British dragoons, 
which was fastened in one of the rooms, left there the im- 
print of his shoe, still to be seen on its walls. This picket 
was under the direct control of the yagers, and was consid- 
ered fully equipped with a commissioned officer and fifty 


men. The orders at this post were to withdraw if the 
rebels fired across the river with cannon, and if the Amer- 
icans attempted to cross they should try to prevent them, 
and immediately report the fact to Colonel Rail's head- 
quarters. They were required constantly to keep a sharp 
lookout on the river, and to send patrols up the stream 
from time to time. The picket was distributed in different 
places about the grounds, — one post in the house, one in 
the greenhouse, one in the vegetable garden down by the 
river, one in a hut behind the barn, not a great way from 
the house, and the fifth some little distance up the road. 
This picket consisted of a sergeant and fifteen men. A 
daily report was made from the picket post to Colonel Rail 
direct, and patrols were sent out every night. Each morn- 
ing three or four British dragoons came to the post and 
examined the river above as far as Yardley's Ferry. 

A sergeant and eighteen men constituted the picket at 
the Assunpink Creek bridge. They had no special duties 
except to observe who passed and repassed the bridge, 
and to send a patrol to the " Doctor House " on the river 
every half hour during each night. They kept a sentinel at 
Major von Dechow's quarters, a square up Queen street 
from the bridge, another on the north side of the bridge, 
and a third at George Bright's bakery on the south end of 
the bridge. 

The picket at the old tavern on the Ferry road, for- 
merly kept by Rensselaer Williams, was composed of one 
commissioned officer, five non-commissioned officers and 
twenty-two men. This post maintained a guard at Dr. 
William Bryant's residence (the "Doctor House") and at 
the Trenton Ferry, or what might better be called the boat- 
landing belonging to Patrick Colvin.^ The guards posted 
quite near to the river bank were forbidden to show them- 
selves in the daytime, as whenever they did so in any num- 
bers, the Americans fired at them from a battery erected 

1 For advertisements in reference to this ferry, see At'chives of State 
of New Jersey, 2d series, vol. i. pp. 96, 138, 154. 


just opposite on the Pennsylvania side of the river. These 
guards were always relieved after dark. 

But the service at the drawbridge over Crosswicks Creek, 
four miles below Trenton, was the most unpleasant, because 
the post was so far from the headquarters of the command. 
It was established for the purpose of keeping open the 
communication with Colonel von Donop, but it appears to 
have protected Colonel von Donop rather more than Colo- 
nel Rail, from whose command it was taken. It seems as 
though the troops at Bordentown, two miles below, should 
have taken charge of this picket post, but it fell to the lot 
of Rail's brigade. It was made up of three commissioned 
officers and one hundred men. This body of troops was 
subdivided into four stations, — an officer and twenty-four 
men posted a short distance from the drawbridge on the 
road to Allentown, another officer and thirty men about 
midway between Trenton and the drawbridge, one officer 
and twenty-four men one mile north of the bridge, and the 
rest of the force at the drawbridge itself. The senior officer 
had orders to retire to Bordentown in case of attack. This 
picket was relieved from Trenton about ten o'clock in the 
morning every other day. On December 14 Colonel Rail 
sent Captain Schimmelpfennig with the von Biesenrodt 
company, and Captain Baum with the body company of the 
von Knyphausen regiment, to the drawbridge with all their 
baggage, ordering them to quarter themselves in the houses 
there, and to keep as close together as possible, as this was a 
section of the country where the feeling toward them was 
not fully known. They had been there but a short time 
when Colonel von Donop sent a yager to warn them to be 
on the lookout, as a force of 700 rebels were reported to be 
ranging around quite near. Colonel Rail did not relieve this 
post until December 17, when they returned to Trenton. 
The houses near the drawbridge were quite far apart and 
surrounded with thick woods, which concealed them from 
view. This frequently left the rear and the flanks of the 
picket very unsafe. 


The orders at the cantonment of Trenton were to relieve 
the guards and sentinels at nine o'clock in the morning, and 
the pickets at four o'clock in the afternoon. Lieutenant 
Piel, the brigade adjutant, says that the parade took place 
in the morning at eleven o'clock, and that the parole and 
countersign were given out at four o'clock in the afternoon. 

It was not the custom of Colonel Rail to visit these picket 
stations. All the oflficers unite in saying that while they 
had command he did not come near them at any time. 

One of the most important and seemingly singular yet 
picturesque displays made in Trenton during this period 
was the march of a heavy patrol about half an hour before 
daylight on December 19, under command of the staff 
officer of the day, from the Fox Chase Tavern on the 
Maidenhead road. This patrol went down Queen street to 
Church alley, where it was joined by a detachment of artil- 
lery with two cannon, and so marched over the Assunpink 
Creek bridge to the " Doctor House " and Trenton Ferry. 
This party was called the watch-guard, and the commanding 
officer had orders not to attempt the capture of an American 
detachment unless it appeared to be one hundred strong, and 
then to do so without fail. It appears that the Americans 
had alarmed the picket before daylight, December 18, and 
had effected a landing with forty men under the protection 
of the guns of the American battery opposite, and that they 
had plundered and burned a house below the landing, so 
that this early morning demonstration was deemed the 
proper military movement. Colonel Rail told Captain Mar- 
tin, who has been previously alluded to as having been de- 
tained in Trenton for two days, that he did not desire to 
interfere very much with these excursions of the rebels, as 
it might occur that at some time Washington, whom he 
would take great pleasure in capturing, would be among 
them. Lieutenant - Colonel Scheffer thought these trips 
across Trenton Ferry were part of a general plan of Wash- 
ington to divert Colonel Rail's attention from the upper 
ferries. He considered that too much care was given to 


Trenton Ferry, while Howell's Ferry and Johnson's Fefry, 
although equally important, were neglected. 

Before he left Trenton for Bordentown, December 14, 
Colonel von Donop instructed Colonel Rail to put up forti- 
fications on the Pennington road and at the Trenton Ferry, 
and he left Captain Georg Heinrich Pauli, his engineer ofificer, 
and Cornet Carl Levin von Heister, of the Hesse-Cassel body 
dragoon regiment, to select the place. 

The next day, in company with Colonel Rail, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Scheffer and other officers. Captain Pauli went up 
to the high ground where King and Queen streets join with 
the Pennington and Maidenhead roads, and indicated the 
place where a redoubt with flanking angles for cannon should 
be placed.^ The party then rode down to the Trenton Ferry, 
and selected for another small fortification an elevated spot 
near the bridge over a little stream which flowed by Dr. 
Bryant's house. It was thought that this would be an excel- 
lent place to which to retreat, and which they might hold for 
a time in case of a vigorous attack by a party of Americans 
from the Pennsylvania side of the river. The records show 
that Colonel Rail gave his approval, of both localities, and 
was especially pleased with the one at the head of King and 
Queen streets. At that time he must have really intended 
erecting these redoubts, for he directed Lieutenant Engel- 
hardt, of Lieutenant-Colonel Eitel's Hessian artillery regi- 
ment, to see that some fascines were made for the purpose. 
This was done, but they were never used. When Captain 
Pauli left that afternoon for his station at Bordentown, he 
told Colonel Rail that if he would send him word as soon as 
he was ready to begin the work on the intrenchments, he 
would come again to Trenton and superintend their erection. 
Captain Pauli reported what he had said and done to Colonel 
von Donop, but Colonel Rail never sent for him. When 
Captain Martin passed through Trenton a second tirne on 
his way to New York, he bore a message from Colonel 
von Donop to Colonel Rail, urging upon him the necessity 
^ The spot on which the Battle Monument now stands. 


of immediately fortifying tiis position with intrenchments. 
Colonel Rail told Captain Martin that he did not think it at 
all necessary, as the rebels were such a miserable lot. In- 
deed, every remark of the officer^was turned into ridicule. It 
is to be supposed that Captain Martin repeated this conver- 
sation to Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer and Major von Dechow 
when he went to their quarters for the letter which he had 
promised to take to General von Heister. The next day, in 
company with Lieutenant Wiederhold of the von Knyphausen 
regiment. Major von Dechow went to Rail's headquarters on 
King street, and in the presence of Lieutenant Piel, Rail's 
brigade adjutant, and Lieutenant ZoU, the adjutant of the 
von Lossberg regiment, made another appeal to have the re- 
doubts erected. Lieutenant Wiederhold, on his own behalf 
and that of Lieutenant Fischer of the artillery detachment, 
offered to do the work at the Trenton Ferry. Rail exclaimed, 
when thus appealed to, " Lasst sie nur kommen ! Keine 
Schanzen ! Mit dem Bajonet wollen wir an sie!" ("Let 
them come ! We want no trenches ! We '11 at them with the 
bayonet ! ") The major did not allow himself to be content 
with this reply, but remonstrated : " Herr Oberst, es kostet 
ja nichts ; hilft es nicht, so schadet es auch nichts ! " 
(" Colonel, it costs nothing ; if it does not help, it can do no 
harm ! ") His desire was, however, never gratified, and the 
lives of both Rail and von Dechow paid the penalty of this 


It is very singular that while it appears that Colonel von 
Donop was always anxious to receive intelligence, and had 
men paid to procure it for him, Colonel Rail, who was much 
nearer the main body of the American force, had absolutely 
no reliable information concerning their movements. Lieu- 
tenant Piel, his brigade adjutant, distinctly states under oath 
that he never employed any spies to go into the American 
camp. In this the Hessian commander was surely blamable. 

Colonel Rail had a very poor opinion of the strength and 
military skill of his foe, and said that they were " nothing 
but a lot of farmers," of no account whatever, and that it 


was of no possible use to make preparations for any attack 
in force by them. So stubborn was he in this respect that 
he would not listen to advice with any grace, but preferred 
to do what seemed best to himself, acting on the impulse of 
the moment, rather than judge which was the best of all the 
different plans laid before him. 

About this time he desired to have more troops in Tren- 
ton, probably not that he feared an attack, but that he 
wished to increase the importance of his command and 
make a greater display in the village. On his applying to 
Major-General Grant, his superior officer, at Bruns\vick, for 
additional troops, or even for some men at Maidenhead to 
keep open the communication with Princeton and Bruns- 
wick, his opinion as to his safety was fully confirmed by that 
officer's reply : " Tell the colonel he is safe ; I will undertake 
to keep the peace in New Jersey with a corporal's guard." 
It is thought that this answer went far to make Rail care- 
less in the matter of fortifications or any other preparations 
for the enemy, for he considered that if they were not dis- 
turbed, they would be only too happy to remain quiet. 

As late as Christmas day Major von Dechow called Colo- 
nel Rail's attention to the baggage and the supplies of the 
brigade, and urged that they be placed in some safe position 
against any sudden attack. But the colonel somewhat in- 
dignantly exclaimed : " The rebels will not come, but if they 
do and can take me, they can have all the stores and the 
baggage to my very last wagon. If they come, all they can 
hope for is a good retreat." Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer of 
the von Lossberg regiment also was filled with the greatest 
anxiety, and' worried himself sick over his commander's reck- 
less conduct. 

For more than a week preceding Christmas the American 
militia were hovering in little detachments around the posts 
at Trenton and Princeton. Indeed, the road between the two 
villages was at no time a secure march for British troops. 

It may be mentioned here that on the 21st day of Decem- 
ber, in expectation of a winter s sojourn in South Jersey, six 


quartermasters of the brigades of von Donop and Rail were 
sent to New York, under the protection of a force of eighty 
Hessian soldiers, for the purpose of bringing on the balance 
of the camp equipage and baggage of the two commands. 
These officers were Quartermaster Heusser of the von Loss- 
berg regiment. Quartermaster Miiller of the von Knyphausen 
regiment. Quartermaster Unger of the von Minnigerode 
regiment. Quartermaster Broste of the von Linsingen regi- 
ment, Quartermaster Fitz of the Rail regiment, and Quarter- 
master Wiederhold of the Hessian artillery. They went to 
Brunswick, and then, avoiding the direct route to Perth 
Amboy, they passed over the Raritan River to Staten Island 
and so to New York. 

On December 24 Colonel Rail ordered a heavy patrol to go 
to Pennington, a little village eight miles distant from Trenton. 
One detachment started in the morning under Major Johann 
Jost Matthaus of Rail's own regiment, taking the direct road 
to Pennington. The other, under Captain Adam Christoph 
Steding of the von Lossberg regiment, went by the River 
Road, and so up to Johnson's Ferry and across to Penning- 
ton. Each column consisted of one hundred men. Lieu- 
tenant von Grothausen and his fifty yagers formed one half 
of Captain Steding's detachment. Colonel Rail himself, 
with the twenty British dragoons, followed after Major Mat- 
thaus on the Pennington road. The major did not find any 
of the enemy on the road or at the village. Lieutenant von 
Grothausen and his yagers marched in the advance of Cap- 
tain Steding's force, and came across some thirty Americans 
at Johnson's Ferry, who, as soon as they saw the yagers come 
out of the woods, entered their boats, and rowed out into the 
stream. The yagers fired, and they heard afterward that 
one officer and two men had been wounded. The American 
artillery fired four shots at the yagers from the Pennsylvania 
shore. After this affair Captain Steding's men passed on to 
Pennington, where Colonel Rail and Major Matthaus had 
been waiting for them for two hours. The entire party then 
returned to Trenton. On his way back Major Matthaus 


rode by the side of Colonel Rail, and talked freely to him 
about his situation at Trenton. He proposed to Rail to put 
a detachment at Pennington, and send daily patrols to John- 
son's Ferry to prevent surprise. But Colonel Rail rejected 
the plan, asking him if he wanted to lose a detachment. 
" Do you wish to go there yourself ? " he asked, and Major 
Matthaus replied, " If I am ordered to go there, I will go and 
do my duty." 

During the week commencing December 22 there was 
much gossip in Trenton concerning the movements of the 
American army. One day a resident of Bucks County, 
whose name the German records give as Mahl, told Colonel 
Rail, in the presence of Lieutenant Pifel, that he would cer- 
tainly be attacked at an early day. Rail answered, " Let 
them come." The next day two deserters from the Amer- 
ican army confirmed this intelligence to Colonel Rail, Major 
Matthaus and Lieutenant Piel being present, and told him 
that the Pennsylvania militia were gathering, and that the 
army had orders to prepare four days' rations. Colonel Rail 
did not believe it. 

After the battle of Trenton, Major Matthaus confidently 
asserted that he had reason to think that Colonel Rail had 
issued letters of protection to people whom he had sup- 
posed to be wealthy and influential in and about Trenton, 
and that they had dined at his table, and he strongly sus- 
pected that many of these people were American officers in 
disguise, who had come to Rail only to get information as 
to his position and condition. 

On Monday morning, December 23, at eleven o'clock. 
Lieutenant Ernst Christian Schwabe of the von Lossberg 
regiment met on King street Dr. William Bryant, the phy- 
sician, who lived on the Bloomsbury Farm, and who was 
seeking Colonel Rail. But Rail could not be found that 
morning, and Dr. Bryant left Lieutenant Schwabe with the 
promise that he would return later in the day. He did so, 
and then told Colonel Rail that he had just heard from a 
negro who had crossed the river that the rebels had drawn 


rations for several days, and were about to attack Trenton. 
" This is all idle! it is old woman's talk," impatiently an- 
swered Colonel Rail. Rut the doctor, who was afraid of beinfj 


robbed and having his house burned, took the matter more 

' Dr. Bryant was the son of Captain William Bryant of Perth 
Amboy, New Jersey, on whose tombstone it is stated that he made fifty- 
five voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. His daughter Mary, who was 
noted for her great piety, married the Hon. William Peartree Smith of 
Elizabeth Town, an earnest patriot, a member of the Council of Safety, 
and a distinguished scholar. It is evident that the brothers-in-law Smith 
and Bryant took very different sides in the great struggle for American 
independence. — Rev. Dr. John Hall's History of the Presbyterian 
Church in Trenton, Xew Jersey, p. 235. 


At this time Washington was making active preparations 
for a simultaneous attack upon all the king's troops on the 
Jersey side of the river. With his skeleton bands of faithful 
and true soldiers, mere fragments of his own army and those 
of Lee and Gates, reinforced by some militia who had yet to 
face an enemy, he proposed as a desperate resort to throw 
this frail body of men on the drilled soldiers of Hesse. 

The gondolas and row-galleys which were under the com- 
mand of Commodore Thomas Seymour, and which, during 
the night of December 19, had been ordered down the Dela- 
ware River, were directed to move up as far as Bordentown, 
which they did in the midst of a fierce snowstorm on Mon- 
day, December 23, and were then stationed along the river 
between Bordentown and Burlington. 

On the evening of December 24 Washington rode over 
to the headquarters of Major-General Greene, at Samuel 
Merrick's house, and took supper with him. At Greene's 
request the family left the house in his charge that night, 
and there appears to be no doubt that the final council of 
war was held that evening and in that dwelling. Generals 
Sullivan, Mercer, Lord Stirling, Colonel Knox and other 
officers, with the Reverend Dr. Macwhorter of Newark, New 
Jersey, were at the table. 

During the course of the meal Lieutenant-Colonel Harri- 
son and his brother (both military secretaries to the com- 
mander-in-chief) were busily engaged in transferring the 
business of the headquarters of the army from Mr. Keith's 
house to Newtown. It is presumed that General Washing- 
ton did not take possession of these new headquarters in 
person on Christmas day. 

The plan adopted at the council of war was substantially 


the same which had been discussed for some days past. 
This scheme was to cross in three different places : that 
Cadwalader's division attack the cantonments at Mount 
Holly, Black Horse and Bordentown ; that Ewing's division 
cross at Trenton Ferry, take position on the south side of 
the Assunpink Creek, and, if possible, close all avenues of 
escape for Rail's troops, and prevent any reinforcement from 
von Donop ; and that General Washington with a large 
detachment of the main army, about 2400 strong, make the 
direct attack upon the garrison at Trenton. The style of 
the campaign was to be changed from defensive to offensive, 
and if any advantage was gained by this movement Wash- 
ington proposed to follow it up by an active and aggressive 
attack upon all the outposts of the enemy. With his own 
immediate command and that of Ewing in possession of 
Trenton, while Putnam and Cadwalader forced von Donop 
out of his cantonments, the entire army would then rapidly 
push on for the military stations at Princeton and Brunswick. 

The night of Christmas was chosen for the crossing of the 
Delaware River. All were familiar with the much honored 
observance of the Christmas festival by the Germans, and 
they relied greatly on the expectation that a too free use of 
intoxicants on that day might to some extent disable the 
effective force of the enemy and make the watch dull. 

Early on Christmas morning Washington issued his order 
for the march to Trenton in the following words : — 

"Each brigade to be furnished with two good guides. 
General Stephen's brigade to form the advance party, and 
to have with them a detachment of the artillery without can- 
non, provided with spikes and hammers to spike up the ene- 
mies' cannon in case of necessity, or to bring them off if it 
can be effected, the party to be provided with drag-ropes for 
the purpose of dragging off the cannon. General Stephen 
is to attack and force the enemy's guards and seize such 
posts as may prevent them from forming in the streets, and 
in case they are annoyed from the houses to set them on 
fire. The brigades of Mercer and Lord Stirling, under the 


command of Major-General Greene, to support General Ste- 
phen. This is the 2d division or left wing of the army and 
to march by the way of the Pennington road. 

" St. Clair's, Glover's, and Sargent's brigades, under Major- 
General Sullivan, to march by the River Road. This is the 
first division of the army, and to form the right wing. Lord 
Stirling's brigade to form the reserve of the left wing, and 
General St. Clair's brigade the reserve of the right wing. 
These reserves to form a second line in conjunction, or a 
second line to each division, as circumstances may require. 
Each brigadier to make the colonels acquainted with the 
posts of their respective regiments in the brigade, and the 
major-generals will inform them of the posts of the brigades 
in the line. Four pieces of artillery to march at the head 
of each column ; three pieces at the head of the second 
brigade of each division ; and two pieces with each of the 
reserves. The troops to be assembled one mile back of 
McKonkey's Ferry, and as soon as it begins to grow dark 
the troops to be marched to McKonkey's Ferry, and embark 
on board the boats in following order under the direction of 
Colonel Knox. 

" General Stephen's brigade, with the detachment of artil- 
lerymen, to embark first ; General Mercer's next ; Lord Stir- 
ling's next ; General Fermoy's next, who will march into the 
rear of the second division and file off from the Pennington 
to the Princeton road in such direction that he can with the 
greatest ease and safety secure the passes between Prince- 
ton and Trenton. The guides will be the best judges of 
this. He is to take two pieces of artillery with him. St. 
Clair's, Glover's, and Sargent's brigades to embark in order. 
Immediately upon their debarkation, the whole to form and 
march in subdivisions from the right. The commanding 
officers of regiments to observe that the divisions be eqiial 
and that proper officers be appointed to each. A profound 
silence to be enjoined, and no man to quit his ranks on the 
pain of death. Each brigadier to appoint flanking parties ; 
the reserve brigades to appoint the rear-guards of the col- 


umns ; the heads of the columns to be appointed to arrive 
at Trenton at five o'clock. 

" Captain Washington and Captain Flahaven, with a party 
of forty men each, to march before the divisions and post 
themselves on the road about three miles from Trenton, and 
make prisoners of all going in or coming out of town. 

" General Stephen will appoint a guard to form a chain of 
sentries round the landing-place at a sufficient distance from 
the river to permit the troops to form, this guard not to 
suffer any person to go in or come out, but to detain all per- 
sons who attempt either. This guard to join their brigade 
when the troops are all over." 

Immediately upon receipt of this order by the brigade 
commanders, they began to make preparations to carry out 
its provisions. Instructions were then given as to the posi- 
tion in line and the part each organization was to take in 
the demonstration on Trenton. A specimen of these de- 
tails is the order to the commanding officer of the Fourth 
Connecticut Continental regiment.^ 

The last of the correspondence between General Grant, 
Colonel Rail, and Colonel von Donop, which appears among 
the Hessian archives, prior to the surprise at Trenton, is an 
interesting letter from Grant to von Donop : — 

Brunswick 24th Dec. 1776 
past eleven at night 
Sir : 

I have been favoured with your letter of the 21st which 
I have transmitted to General Howe, your Intelligence from 
the Country People was very circumstantial but be assured 
there are no rebel Troops in the Jerseys, they send over 
small parties from twenty to thirty men at a time and 
Colonel Chambers ^ of Hunterdon has the command of sev- 
enty or eighty near Howell's Ferry. The rebel army in 
Pennsylvania consisted of 8000 men the 22nd instant which 

1 Part ii. No. 36. 

2 Colonel David Chambers, Third regiment, Hunterdon County, New 
Jersey militia. 


was posted at Philadelphia, Bristol, opposite to Trenton and 
as far as Sherad's Ferry, their greatest force between Tren- 
ton and Coryell's Ferry, the day I mention which was Sun- 
day last, Sullivan, Gates, Arnold and Sterling were with 
Washington at his Quarters. Mifflin was then in the back 
part of Pennsylvania endeavouring to force the militia. 
Washington has been informed that our Troops have marched 
into Winter quarters and have been told that we are weak 
at Trenton and princetown and Lord Stirling expressed a 
wish to make an attack upon these two places. I don't 
believe he will attempt .it, but be assured that my informa- 
tion is undoubtedly true, so I need not advise you to be upon 
your guard against an unexpected attack at Trenton. I 
think I have got into a good line of intelligence which will 
be of use to us all and I have the honour to be 

Sir, your most obed't and most h'ble servant 

James Grant. 

General Leslie sent word to Colonel Rail on December 
23 that General Howe had refused to place a detachment 
at Maidenhead, as Rail desired, but that he would send a 
patrol of twenty-five or thirty men to Trenton twice a week 
if Colonel Rail would do the same to Princeton. This plan 
seems to have been agreed upon, as General Leslie sent 
the patrol to Trenton the next day. They also brought word 
that they believed an attack on either Trenton or Princeton 
was imminent. 

In their statements concerning the affair at Trenton, 
made after the battle, the Hessian officers unite in severely 
blaming Colonel Rail for not designating any alarm places, 
where each regiment should muster in case of an attack. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer, however, had designated a 
place by the English Church for that purpose, and as the 
Rail regiment was the regiment " of the day," and so under 
arms at the time of the surprise, it does not seem pertinent 
that so much stress should be laid on this minor delinquency 
of the commandant. Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer blames 

w / 

V1 1 


him for not designating a road by which they might re- 
treat if attacked by a superior force ; but Colonel Rail was 
an officer who, although well fitted for making an assault, 
was by nature ill-suited to defense, and retreat and defeat 
were matters to which he refused to give a thought, even 
though the hostile party might be numerically overwhelm- 

-"^As the American officers had anticipated, the Hessian 
troops at Trenton, carelessly confident in their own military 
strength, entered eagerly into the Christmas revelry as they 
did at home, and all day and far into the night they con- 
tinued their merrymaking, with some feasting and much 
drinking with the people of the town. 

"On Christmas morning it is said General Grant sent a 
messenger to Colonel Rail, stating, although erroneously, 
that a small detachment under General Lord Stirling was 
hovering near him, and might make a demonstration on 
the village at any time during the day. This admonition, 
which would have put a more careful commander on strict 
watch for a surprise, had little effect. The colonel rode 
around the outskirts of the town, visiting some of the guards, 
and returned quite late in the afternoon to his headquarters 
on King street, the house of Stacy Potts. Here he started 
a little game of checkers with his genial host. He was still 
playing when a sound of firing was heard from the northwest 
portion of the town. It was scarcely more than a single 
volley, then a few scattering shots, and all was still ; but it 
raised a great alarm in the village. This was between seven 
and eight o'clock. The picket on the Pennington road had 
been attacked by a party of Americans, which, they said, 
consisted of forty or fifty men. They came out " in front of 
the woods " on the road which led to Pennington on the side 
toward Birmingham, and retired thence to Johnson's Ferry. 
As has already been stated, the picket consisted of a corporal 
and fifteen men. The non-commissioned officer in charge 
was Corporal William Hartung of the body company of the 
von Lossberg regiment (who was born in Elbingerod, on the 


Hartz Mountains in Hanover. He was twenty-six years of 
age, and had spent one year in tiie Hanover cavalry and three 
years in the von Lossberg regiment. He was accounted a 
good and rehable soldier. Seeing that the numbers of the 
enemy were strong, and six of his men being wounded, 
though none killed. Corporal Hartung and the nine men 
remaining fell back, leading and carrying their wounded 
comrades, to Captain von Altenbockum's company, which 
was quartered about a gunshot from the picket post.^ 

As soon as Captain von Altenbockum heard the firing he 
assembled his company in front of his quarters, and sent 
one half of them toward the picket station, under command 
of Lieutenant Georg Christian Kimm. Shortly afterward 
the captain himself followed with the rest of his company. 
Meeting Corporal Hartung, he gave him eight of his own 
men and sent him hastily back to search the woods for 
a short distance about the picket post. When Hartung 
reached the post he was joined by six yagers, who had 
hastened across the fields from the Dickinson house on the 
River road to find out what had happened. These twenty- 
four men made a careful patrol around the picket station, 
but the enemy were not to be found. About this time 
Lieutenant-Colonel Brethauer, the inspector of the guard, 
hurriedly came up to the picket with a party of Hessian 
infantry in charge of Ensign Friedrich Franz Grabe of the 
von Lossberg regiment, probably from the principal picket 
at the Fox Chase Tavern on the Maidenhead road. After a 
brief consultation with Captain von Altenbockum, he sent 
out Ensign Johann Georg Schroeder of the Rail regiment 
with thirty men to go still farther on the road and endeavor 
to find the hostile party. 

In the meantime the town was in an uproar. The von 
Lossberg regiment had gathered at their company quarters 
under arms. Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer being ill, his com- 

' The names of two of the wounded men were : Fusilier Ciriacus 
Wagner, von Borch company, and fusilier Wetter, body company, 
both von Knyphausen regiment. 


mand did not muster at this time as a regiment. The Rail 
regiment formed in front of the English Church, and with 
Colonel Rail at its head marched up to the high ground at 
the junction of the Pennington and Maidenhead roads, where 
it awaited further orders. The von Knyphausen regiment 
on the lower part of Queen street, and the von Hanstein 
company of the von Lossberg regiment, on the south side 
of the bridge, also gathered at their quarters. Major von 
Hanstein and Major von Dechow left their regiments in 
charge of the next in rank, and hastened up King street 
after the Rail regiment to find out the cause of the firing. 
When they came up to Colonel Rail, Major von Hanstein 
remained with him, but Major von Dechow urged his horse 
to the Pennington road picket. There he met Lieutenant- 
Colonel Brethauer and his men and Captain von Alten- 
bockum and his company. An order had already been sent 
out by the lieutenant-colonel to recall Ensign Schroeder, 
who soon appeared with his patrol and told the officers that 
he had been about two miles up the road, but that the search 
had been unsuccessful. Lieutenant Andreas Wiederhold of 
the von Knyphausen regiment with ten men reinforced the 
picket post at Howell's house, increasing its strength to one 
commissioned officer, one non - commissioned officer, and 
nineteen men. The records give the names of five of this 
reinforcing party as fusiliers Bicker, Rupp, Schmelz, Stein- 
brecker and Zugreis, all of the von Knyphausen regiment. 

Captain von Altenbockum and Lieutenant Kimm and 
their company then returned to their quarters, where the 
guns were stacked, the men staying together all night in 
the two houses near the captain's quarters belonging to 
John Chambers and Warrell Cottnam. Leaving Lieutenant 
Kimm in charge of his men. Captain von Altenbockum 
walked down the Pennington road with Lieutenant-Colonel 
Brethauer and Major von Dechow until they met Colonel 
Rail and his regiment at the head of King street. Here 
he related the story of the attack on the picket. Lieuten- 
ant Johannes Engelhardt of the artillery was near Colonel 


Rail when Captain von Altenbockum gave his report, and 
he afterward stated that the former acknowledged that Gen- 
eral Grant had warned him that a party was wandering near 
his cantonment ; he also said he thought that they were only 
a few farmers collected for the purpose of annoying him, and 
that he was confident he could whip them all with his regi- 
ment alone. Major von Dechow, however, was deeply con- 
cerned about the matter, and, according to the statement of 
Lieutenant Carl Ludwig von Geyso of the von Knyphausen 
regiment, who was with him at the time, urged upon Colonel 
Rail the propriety of immediately sending out a heavy patrol 
to all the ferries and up the roads. But he was answered 
that it would be time enough in the morning. When he 
left Colonel Rail, Major von Dechow gave free vent to his 
f eehngs to the young lieutenant, and said he feared the colo- 
nel would get them all in trouble. Major von Dechow put 
sentinels in front of every house which his regiment occupied, 
and ordered all his men to remain therein that night ready 
for an alarm. The other regiments also were dismissed to 
their quarters. 

Glad to be once more indoors and sheltered from the 
storm, the men gathered around their fires and returned to 
their drunken revels. No preparation was made for another 
attack, and no baggage of any kind was collected. Lieu- 
tenant Jacob Piel, Colonel Rail's adjutant, who saw him at 
ten o'clock in the evening, says he issued no special orders 
for the night. Lieutenant Wiederhold, who was then in 
command of the picket on the Pennington road, states the 
situation clearly : " A vigilant officer would have given 
orders to reconnoitre all the roads up the river, and the 
ferries, either to find all quiet or to find the enemy, and not 
to come back until the fact was thoroughly established." 

The manoeuvre of this little scouting party, a demonstra- 
tion which might have proved disastrous to General Wash- 
ington's plans for the next day, would certainly have made a 
prudent officer very careful to keep his own head clear and 
his troops well in hand, especially as he knew that the foe 


was always in sight just over the river ; yet this very move- 
ment seems to have removed all further apprehension from 
Colonel Rail's mind. 

The attacking party consisted of about thirty men of 
Stephen's brigade. History differs as to who had command 


of this little force. In some cases it is given to Captain 
William Washington, but he was not in Stephen's brigade. 
There is more reason to believe that it was the company 
commanded by Captain Richard Clough Anderson of Colo- 
nel Charles Scott's regiment, Fifth Virginia Continental line. 
The subaltern officers of this company were John Ander- 
son, first lieutenant ; William Bentley, second lieutenant ; 


Robert Tompkins, ensign. It seems that the party was 
scouting through Hunterdon County, without General Wash- 
ington's permission, and as a mere adventure drove in the 
picket, wounded six men, seized their firelocks and ammu- 
nition, and hastened away to join their regiment, which to 
their surprise was then crossing the river into the Jerseys.^ 

It is said that General Stephen was censured by General 
Washington for allowing this roving party to be in New 
Jersey at that time, but afterward, when the commander-in- 
chief found that, so far from injuring his project, the little 
affair had given Colonel Rail the impression that the attack 
which General Grant had predicted had been made, and had 
failed, his reproof was changed to praise for the brave ex- 

After this incident was over, and his troops dismissed. Colo- 
nel Rail did not return to his own quarters and his unfin- 
ished game with Friend Potts, but dropped in, flushed with 
his fancied success, on a more convivial party, whiling away 
the hours of Christmas night in Abraham Hunt's parlor, on 
the northwest corner of King and Second streets.^ 

1 Part ii. No. 49. 

- Abraham Hunt was the rich merchant of the village, and its post- 
master. He has been called a non-committal man. Patriots, it is said, 
feared that he was not ahogether true to the cause, for they knew that 
their country's enemies ofttimes partook of his bounty. He has fre- 
quently been spoken of in history as a Tory, but it is never asserted that 
he took any active part against his country. On the contrary, at this 
very time he held the commission of Heutenant-colonel of Colonel Isaac 
Smith's First regiment, Hunterdon County militia, and the state records 
do not show any stain upon his honor as an officer and a soldier. It 
has never been stated that he ever claimed protection from the British. 
His property does not appear to have been confiscated, which would 
have been done if he had been a Tory, and he certainly was in the full 
enjoyment of it to the date of his death, long after the close of the war. 
He also retained his oiifice as postmaster of the village under the 
national government for many years. His home was a place of good 
cheer for every guest, and in after years he married that most patriotic 
lady. Miss Mary Dagworthy, who was so busy during the war in aid- 
ing the sick and wounded soldiers of the American army, and who 
strewed flowers in Washington's pathway at the Assunpink bridge, as 



The supper party at Abraham Hunt's house, no matter 
what the host's sentiments, had an important effect upon the 
ensuing events. Can it have been after all that he was not 
a\'erse to seeing the Hessian commander utterly unable to 
perform his military duties ? Certain it is that he was a 

A):raham hunt's house 

most acti\'e though perhaps unconscious agent in bringing 
disaster and defeat to the British arms. Tradition says that 

he journeyed toward New \'ork to assume tlie duties of president of 
the United States. The Hon. William S. Yard of Trenton, New Jer- 
sey, a descendant of Benjamin Yard, who was an iron-worker and gun- 
smith in Trenton in 1776. has in his possession the following receipt: 
" Received, Trenton, July 4th, 1776, of Abram Hunt, one of the Com- 
missioners for the county of Hunterdon, fifty-one pounds for twelve 
muskets; August 19th received fifty-five pounds thirteen shillings and 
si.xpence for fourteen muskets: 21 Aug. received twenty-four pounds 
seven shillings and si.xpence for thirteen muskets, and July 15th, 1777, 
received one pound and fourteen shillings for seventeen scabbards 
delivered last Summer. Benjamin Yard." If Abraham Hunt as one of 
the commissioners disbursed government funds for the repair of arms 
July 4, 1776. would he also have been allowed to remain in the same 
office and do the same work July 15, 1777, if he had shown himself a 
loj'alist in December, 1776 ? 


Plan of an engagement between six thousand Americans, with fourteen 
cannon and two howitzers, under command of General Washington, 
and a brigade of Hessians under command of Colonel Rail at Tren- 
ton on the 26th day of December, 1776. 


A. Trenton. 

B. Picket of i officer and 24 men. 

C. The 7 picket posts placed on each side of it, of which No. i was 
the right wing, and had connection with the left wing of the captain's 
picket ; the one marked No. 7 was the left wing, and had connection 
with the yager picket. 

D. Route made by the patrol of the officers' picket, and which always 
turned to the left to the yager picket, and thence uptown to the captain's 
post, and from there back through the chain of sentinels. 

E. The left wing post of the captain's picket. 

F. The right wing post of the yager picket. 

G. Captain von Altenbockum's company of the von Lossberg regi- 
ment, which formed in front of the captain's quarters while the pickets 
were engaged with the enemy, and which, when they fell back, moved 
towards the right wing, and joined with that in the charge. 

H. Picket of i captain, i non-commissioned officer and 75 men. 

I. Picket of I officer and 50 yagers who retreated at once across the 

K. Command of I officer and 30 men who fell back upon von 
Donop's corps. 

L. Place where the regiments formed and received their orders. 

M. Place where the regiments tried to rally after they had left the 
city, and where Colonel Rail with his own and the von Lossberg regi- 
ment made an attack upon the abandoned city, in order to save the 
baggage, but was repulsed and driven back to N. ; and there were made 
prisoners of war. The regiment von Knyphausen, which was to have 
covered the flanks, had likewise to fall back, and tried to gain the bridge. 
This, however, they could not reach because of the loss of time occa- 
sioned in trying to recover the von Lossberg guns that had become 
stuck in the swamp, and during this time the enemy pressed forward, 
and captured the regiment at O. 

P. Von Lossberg cannon in the swamp. 

Q. Von Knyphausen cannon which did not reach the regiment dur- 
ing the battle. 

R. Rail cannon that were dismounted at the beginning of the en- 

S. Attack of the provincials from the woods. 

T. Junction and formation of provincials in line of battle before the 

U.. Stirling's brigade, which pursued the von Knyphausen regiment. 
[St. Clair's, not Stirling's, brigade pursued the von Knyphausen regi- 

W. Last movement of the Americans. 

X. American guns and howitzers. 

Y. Place where General Washington took position at the beginning 
of the fight in order to direct the battle. 

i 1 

(.too »'^ <i' a ^f •-/ 


'\A\j., .". ,'. A c^ i, ^- ^^^ ,-'' ,''\ ;-•-- '^'% "'^. f 

,'A\ ,, J- <i'' ^'•=' «■' a'" o^ ^*» ^'' » 9 ' 

° „'- Jo ""o , ' " , 

4 ^"ll 

\\\\\\V': ,'/ 



the merriment continued all the night, and when it was 
nearly dawn poor Rail was still busy with his cards and 

During the night a Tory farmer from Bucks County, Penn- 
sylvania, whose name the German records give as Wall, pos- 
sibly the same loyalist called Mahl, who had visited Colonel 
Rail a few days before, came into the town in great haste, 
and, not finding Rail at his own headquarters, rapped at 
Abraham Hunt's door, and asked for the Hessian colonel. 
The negro waiter was unwilling to have the jolly party dis- 
turbed even at that hour, and he refused to admit him. 
Hurriedly writing a few lines, giving Colonel Rail the move- 
ments of the American army, the farmer sent it in by the 
servant, and left the door with a clear conscience, feeling 
that he had done his duty as a loyal subject to the English 
king. But Rail, who was in no condition to trouble himself 
with the contents of a note perhaps addressed quite care- 
lessly, put it into his vest pocket without a thought that his 
life must pay the penalty for this apparently trivial act. And 
the shuffling of the cards went on, dealing out golden mo- 
ments of his life.^ 

On examining the map herein inserted, a copy of the ori- 
ginal on file in the king's state archives at Marburg, Ger- 
many, and which was prepared by Lieutenant Jacob Piel of 
the von Lossberg regiment, brigade adjutant to Colonel Rail, 
the picket posts of the Hessian force about Trenton can be 

1 Frank Forester has given us a vivid pen picture of this roistering 

party : — 

" Soldiers, spread the Christmas feast ; 

Soldiers, fill the bumper fair ; 
Pass the bottle, pile the hearth, 

Cutting cold the wintry air ! 
Let the toast our country be, 

From whatever country we ! 
Sons of German Fatherland, 

Britons ever bond and free. 
Comrades, troll the jolly stave, 

Pass the bottle, fear no wrong ! 
For the rebel hosts are weak, 

And the wintry river strong I " 







^ ai 

"""""V "''' 



I KI) 






ii'liii' f 







I "■"'"■"ip- *•*'•"", 


'>- <«3 

■^^g^t- J"^' 

1 '> " 



n"l iflll""!,,, 





"1 Ouici J^ 




\. T V^' XJf'^rvrruyry 

"f ^ 



,^' T"i""u; 

J '"^i 

'4 ,„,n'' 


.A M ^HlBiW 

t i- 3l 1." 






X 2_ 

. -^ ,u 

,V '//> 



The affair at Trenton which occurred December 26, 1776, between one 
corps of rebels of six thousand men under command of General 
Washington and one brigade of Hessians under command of Colonel 


A. Trenton. 

B. Picket of i officer and 24 men. 

C. Captain von Altenbockum's company of the von Lossberg regi- 
ment, which was quartered in this neighborhood, and which was charged 
by the enemy while doing picket duty. 

D. Picket of i captain, i non-commissioned officer and 75 men. 

E. I officer and 50 yagers who retreated over the bridge at once. 

F. Command of i officer and 30 men who retired to von Donop's 

G. Place of original formation of the regiments. 

H. Place where the regiments stood after leaving the city, and where 
Rail intended to make an attack on the city with his own and the von 
Lossberg regiments, but failed to do it. 

1. Place of repulse and capture of the regiments; in the meantime 
the von Knyphausen regiment was to have covered the flank. 

K. Where the von Knyphausen regiment, which sought to hold pos- 
session of the bridge, had the misfortune to have the von Lossberg 
cannon, which were with them, stick in the morass, and in the work 
necessary to get them out, lost the opportunity of taking the bridge, 
which was now too strongly guarded, and they were compelled to sur- 

L. Von Lossberg cannon. 

M. Von Knyphausen cannon which during the affair did not reach 
their regiment. 

N. Rail cannon which were silenced at the beginning of the fight. 

O. Attack of the rebels from the woods. 

P. Advance and surrounding of the city by the same force. 

Q. Two battalions of the same force which pressed on toward the 
von Knyphausen regiment. 

R. Last manoeuvre and attack of the same force. 

S. Rebel cannon. 

T. Place where General Washington stood and gave his orders. 


readily ti'aced.^ Another map of the same general character 
was prepared by Lieutenant Andreas Wiederhold '■' of the 
von Knyphausen regiment, the ofificer who commanded the 
Pennington road picket on Christmas night ; and a third, 
differing slightly from the other two, was made by Lieuten- 
ant Friedrich Fischer ^ of the Hessian artillery. All of these 
maps will be of interest to those who are familiar with the 
streets of Trenton as they are to-day, and their authenticity 
is proven by the fairly accurate position of the English 
Church, the Presbyterian Church, the barracks, and the As- 
sunpink Creek.* 

Still another map of the same general character may 
be found in the " Collections of the New York Historical 
Society " for the year 1882, facing page 200. This map was 
"copied in the month of January, 1781, in North America 
and on York Island," by Lieutenant Carl van Kraft of the 
Hessian regiment von Bose. As this officer was not at the 
battle of Trenton, it has been thought unnecessary to insert 
herein a copy of his map. 

On Christmas night the Rail regiment was the regiment 
" dn jour," the regiment to remain on duty and under arms 
for twenty-four hours or until the parade at eleven o'clock 
on the morning of December 26. The men of this regiment 
were not allowed to take off any portion of their uniform 
clothing at night, and were only permitted to unbutton their 
leggings and lay aside their cartouches. 

Again looking across the river at the American army, we 
refer to the last hours before the actual crossing of the Del- 
aware River. General Washington dispatched an express 
rider to the hospital at Bethlehem to summon Dr. Shippen 
and his assistants to join the army at once. He evidently 
anticipated a severe conflict. Some of the regiments which 
had been assigned to take part in the attack on Trenton 
began to march at about two o'clock in the afternoon of 

1 See p. 124. ^ See p. 126. ^ See p. 128. 

* For personnel of outposts of Trenton, December 24, 1776, see Part 
ii. No. SS- 


Battle of Trenton, December 26, 1776, between American Provincial 
troops under the command of General Washington, and three regi- 
ments of Hessians under the command of Colonel Rail, where a part 
of the latter force was compelled to surrender as prisoners of war. 


A. Advance of the provincial troops from John's [the American 
force did not cross at Johnson's, but at McKonkey's] Ferry in two 

B. Advance on picket a and Captain von Altenbockum's company b. 

C. Attack on Trenton after the retreat of the picket and Captain von 
Altenbockum's company, and also the captain's picket c, to Trenton. 

D. March of the provincial troops in battalion formation. 

E. March of the Hessian regiments after leaving Trenton. 

F. Attack of the von Lossberg and Rail regiments on Trenton. 

G. Provincial troops guarding the bridge. 

H. Retreat of the von Knyphausen regiment at the time of the attack 
on the von Lossberg and Rail regiments. 

J. Surrender of the von Lossberg and Rail regiments. 

K. Attack on J by the provincial troops. 

L. Attack on H after the surrender of the von Lossberg and Rail 

M. Provincial artillery. 

N. Rail cannon which were at once silenced. 

R. Von Knyphausen cannon. 

S. Von Lossberg cannon. 

T. Commands which retreated to Burlington. 

(Note. This map, in some particulars the best of the series, has one 
error. There was no church near the creek, in the line of march of 
the von Knyphausen regiment, near K.) 


Christmas day, and by three o'clock all of the troops ordered 
on this expedition were in motion toward the river. General 
Washington gave orders that the watch of every officer 
should be set by his own. Speaking of his men on that day, 
he said, " Many of our poor soldiers are quite barefoot and 
ill-clad," and Major Wilkinson tells us in his "Memoirs"^ 
that their " route was easily traced, as there was a little snow 
on the ground, which was tinged here and there with blood 
from the feet of the men who wore broken shoes." Each 
man was provided with three days' cooked rations and forty 
rounds of ammunition, and the troops were therefore ready 
to push on and follow up any advantage that they might 
gain, if such a course were deemed prudent. 

It was confidently expected that all the infantry, and a 
few companies of cavalry and artillery, with eighteen cannon 
and howitzers, might be ferried over by midnight, and so 
have the five hours until daybreak in which to march to 
Trenton. The Durham boat was the ordinary means of trans- 
porting merchandise on the Delaware River, and of even 
sending iron ore from Oxford Furnace, in old Sussex County, 
New Jersey, to the market at Philadelphia during the forty 
years before and after the beginning of this century.^ A 
number of these boats had been carefully collected by 
men employed by Colonel Humpton of the Pennsylvania 
Continental line. For the last ten days Captain Jacob Gear- 
hart, Captain Daniel Bray and Captain Thomas Jones, all 
officers of the Second regiment, Hunterdon County, New 

1 Vol. i. p. 127. 

2 These boats were like large canoes, some thirty or forty feet long, 
usually painted blaclc, pointed at each end, and manned by four or five 
boatmen. A steering oar adjustable at either end gave employment to 
one man on the down stream trip, which was from Robeson's Ferry 
wharf near the Furnace to the city of Philadelphia. This was a two 
days' journey, but it took at least five days of hard, pole pushing by 
four men to get it back again to the ferry wharf, loaded as it was with 
provisions for men living near the upper waters of the Delaware. In 
revolutionary days there were about forty of this kind of craft on the 

I 30 


Jersey militia, had been busily employed in gathering all 
the boats of every kind on the upper waters of the Delaware 
and Lehigh ri\'ers, and hiding them, with those previously 
collected, behind the thick woods on Malta Island, close to 
the west bank and at the mouth of Knowles's Creek, where 
the)' were entirely hidden from the Jersey shore. These 
boats had been kept under careful guard, and were now 
brought down some two miles to McKonkey's Ferry, the 
selected place for the crossing.^ 

All day Monday and Tuesday the Delaware River was 
clear of ice, but before noon on Wednesday, the 25th, it was 

full of floating cakes of ice, 
not very thick, however, 
from some of its upper 
branches, which had been 
frozen by the intense cold 
of December 20. The cur- 
rent was swift and danger- 
ous, and the weather cheer- 
less and cold. 

As soon as it became 
dark, the troops came down 
to the river bank, ready to 
pass over. General Wash- 
ington, who was on horse- 
back, eagerly watched the 
boats, as they iiushed off one by (jne freighted with men 
who were to strike a desperate blow for the liberty of their 
country, or receive a crushing defeat from their hireling 
foes. Some deep, all-pervading spirit of patriotism must 
have burned in the breasts of these men to have made them 
underszo the sufferings of that awful night. Their devotion 

M.\JfiR i.l..sLK.\L H<JK.\riu GATES 

' An affidavit of John Clifford on file in the War Department, Wash- 
ington, D. C, states that he assisted Captain Bray in gathering twenty- 
five boats, and that the party met at Baptisttown. Hunterdon County, 
New Jersey, about three miles from the Delaware River, to make their 
plans for that object. 



in that hour to an ahnost hopeless cause appears now to the 
student of history as subhme. It was with some impatience 
tliat Washington read a few hnes from General Gates, who 
had reported himself sick, but, as his aide, Major Wilkinson, 
confessed, was even then on his way to Congress at Balti- 
more to intrigue in his own favor and against his chief, in- 
stead of having assumed the command at Bristol. General 
Washington had entreated him to take charge of this post, 
saying, " if you could only stay there two or three days, I 


should be glad," but the entreaty was of no avail. General 
Gates had evidently lost some of his faith in the cause, and 
was willing to absent himself from the post of duty, of dan- 
ger, and of honor. 

1 This monument bears the foUowint; inscription: •' Near this spot 
Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas niglit, 1776, the eve 
of the battle of Trenton." 


Before crossing the ri\-er, General Washington wrote to 
Colonel Cadwalader at Bristol : — 

McKonkey's Ferky 25th Decemf 1776 
Six o'clock p. M. 
Dear Sir : 

Notwithstanding the discouraging Accounts I have re- 
ceived from Col. Reed of what might be expected from the 
C)perations below, I am determined, as the Night is favour- 

criLoNEL John glover 

able, to cross the Ri\-er and make the attack upon Trenton 

in the Morning, If you can do nothing real, at least create as 

great a diversion as possible. 

I am Sir 

Yr. most ob' Serv' 

Go Washixgton. 
Cor. Cadwalader ' 

' From original in possession of Charles E. Cadwalader of Philadel- 
]"ihi.-i. Pennsylvania. 




The jagged ice floated swiftl}' by, and struck the boats so 
severely that they could be handled only with the greatest 
difficulty. About eleven o'clock a severe storm of mingled 
snow and hail set in, and with the high wind rendered it a 
dark, cold and dismal night. Thomas Rodney writes : " It 
was as severe a night as I ever saw. The frost was sharp, 
the current difficult to stem, the ice increasing, the wind 
high, and at ele\'en it began to snow. It was only with the 
greatest care and labor that the horses and the artillery 
could be ferried over the river." Had not Colonel John 


Glover's splendid regiment of seafaring men from Marble- 
head, Massachusetts, lent a willing and skillful hand, as he 
had promised they would, the expedition would no doubt 
have failed. These sailors and fishermen, armed with rifles, 
clad in blue round-jackets and trousers with large leather 
buttons attached, were then, as they had been in New York 
harbor early in the morning of August 30, when the retreat 
was made from Long Island, the men on whom all relied to 
see the army safely landed.^ 

Soon after Stephen's brigade had reached the left bank 
of the river, and had formed a chain of sentries around the 
landing-place, Washington dismounted, and with his lieuten- 
ants around him crossed to the Jersey shore. This scene has 
been immortalized by the famous picture of Emanuel Leutze, 
so full of vigor and animation, but so faulty, so very inaccu- 
rate in detail. Captain John Blunt of Portsmouth, who had 
sailed in and out of all the harbors on the coast between 

1 From Lorenzo Sabine's report on the fisheries we take the follow- 
ing extract of a speech made by General Knox in the legislature of 
Massachusetts, and in which the conduct of these men is faithfully de- 
picted : " Sir ! I wish the members of this body knew the people of 
Marblehead as well as I do. I could wish they had stood on the banks 
of the Delaware river in 1776 in tliat bitter night when the Commander- 
in-Chief had drawn up his little army to cross it, and had seen the 
powerful current bearing onward the floating masses of ice, which 
threatened destruction to whosoever should venture upon its bosom. 
I wish that when this occurrence threatened to defeat the enterprise 
they could have heard that distinguished warriour demand, ' Who will 
lead us on ? ' and seen the men of Marblehead and Marblehead alone, 
stand forward to lead the army along the perilous path to unfading 
glories and honours in the achievements of Trenton. There, Sir, went 
the fishermen of Marblehead, alike at home upon land or water, alike 
ardent, patriotic and unflinching whenever they unfurled the flag of the 
country." Alexander Graydon, in his Memoirs, refers to this regiment 
in the following words : " There was an appearance of discipline in this 
corps : the officers seemed to have mixed with the world and to under- 
stand what belonged to their stations. Though deficient, perhaps, in 
polish, it possessed an apparent aptitude for the purpose of its institu- 
tion and gave a confidence that myriads of its meek and lowly brethren 
were incompetent to inspire." 


Hil l ' Ml iMW WiWt'pi'WBW 

^ .c^ /-X ' '''MIX — . ^ ^ \ %' 

Bro7iZi' Tablet oh the 7r€Hto7! Batth: Jfonniiwiit 

Portsmouth and Philadelphia, and who was familiar with 
the na\'igation of the Delaware River, was very active and 
conspicuous in guiding the boats so preciously freighted. 
Lieutenant Ciithbert of Captain Moulder's battery of Phil- 
adelphia also ably assisted him.-' 

Colonel Kno.\, the artillerist, stood on the river bank, 
repeating General Washington's orders as long as they re- 
mained on the I-'ennsylvania shore, and amid all the storm 
and darkness his powerful voice rang out, directing the move- 

' Captain Blunt was a .shipma.ster, born in New Castle, New Hamp- 
shire; and in April, 1775, when about forty years of age, he commanded 
the schooner Cornucopia, which sailed from Portsmouth, New Hamp- 
shire, lor Alexandria, Virginia, and continued to trade during the rest 
of that year with other ports in Virginia and on the Delaware River, 
After the return of his vessel to Portsmouth in the spring of 1776 it is 
thought that he attached himself to Colonel (Clover's marine regiment, 
about the time when the colonel was the agent for the Continental 
armed vessels, of wdiich Portsmouth. Marblehead and New Castle fur- 
nished a considerable number. He came from the same section of 
New Hampshire as General Sullivan, and no doubt that officer knew 
the value of his services at this critical hour. 



ments of the boats. It is difficult to estimate the important 
service which he thus ga\'e toward the success of the enter- 

All the officers with General Washington were gloomy and 
despondent, as they crossed the river, but he for once in- 
dulged in a little pleasantry at the expense of Colonel Knox, 


which greatly amused that officer, and put the rest of the 
officers in the best of humor when the story was told them. 

After crossing the river, and before his horse had reached 
him, General Washington, seated on a box once used as a 
beehive, was silent, undisturbed, his mind filled with anxious 
thought, with high resolve, with desperate earnestness, and, 

^ We find that Samuel Breck. in his Recolhttions, uses these words, 
when speaking of Colonel Knox: "His voice was a deep bass and re- 
sounded through the camp, when exercising the artillery of which he was 
general, in tones of audil^le command. When on the left bank of the 
Delaware, as represented in Sully's historical picture of the passage of 
that river on Christmas day, preparatory to the attack on Trenton, his 
stentorian voice was heard above the crash of ice which filled the river 
with floating cakes and very much embarrassed the boats that were 
conveving the army." 


it has been said, with a clear determination to win a victory 
or die in the attempt. ^ 

It was expected that before midnight the force would be 
over the river, not a thousand feet wide at that place ; but for 
nine weary hours they toiled and struggled resolutely with 
the floating ice cakes, and it was after three o'clock before 
the last man reached the shore of New Jersey.^ 

1 In a work entitled TIu History of the British Empire from the 
Year 176^ to the End of lySj, edited " by a society of Gentlemen, Phila- 
delphia, 1798," we find the doubtful statement that' before the attack 
General Washington animated his men by this speech : " My friends, 
it is not only the liberty of America that depends on your valour and 
firmness, but what ought to be much more dear to you than your lives, 
your honour! Think of the infamy which will attend you through life, 
not only here, but through the whole world, if the campaign closes with- 
out some instance that the courage with which you stand to your arms is 
equal to the justice of the cause which ought to animate your bosoms. 
For my own part, I will not survive a defeat, if that defeat arises from 
any inattention to your safety. Wipe out the stains which have been 
thrown upon your reputations by seeking an honourable death ; and 
give credit to me, that it will be the only means of meeting victory, life 
and honour." 

2 Tradition gives us the names of some of the prominent men of 
Hopewell Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, who did good ser- 
vice on that eventful night. Among these were Major Joseph PhilKps, 
a detachment of whose First regiment, Hunterdon County militia, under 
command of Colonel Isaac Smith, had joined the army when they passed 
through Trenton ; the adjutant of the regiment, Elias Phillips ; John 
Phillips, afterward a captain in the regiment; Captain John Mott, for- 
merly of the same organization, but then recruiting for the New Jersey 
Continental line ; Phihp Phillips, who afterward became a captain and 
then major of the regiment ; John Muirheid, John Guild, Henry Sim- 
mons and William Green, of Captain Henry Phillips's company; Amos 
Scudder, afterward an ensign ; Ephraim Woolsey, Stephen Burroughs, 
Edon Burroughs, Joseph Inslee, Uriah Slack and David Lanning, of 
Captain John Mott's old company of the First regiment of Hunterdon 
County miUtia, and James Slack of Makefield Township, Bucks County, 
Pennsylvania, who was a boatman on the river. 

Some of these men helped at the crossing, and all marched with the 
army to Trenton, some as guides, and others, in plain farmers' clothes, as 
scouts, going well in advance to spy out the state of the picket-guard. 
One of these patriots, David Lanning, a miller, had but a few days 



It was almost four o'clock on Thursday morning when the 
army was formed for its march from the Eight Mile or 
McKonkey's Ferry to Trenton ; but at last, when the chain 
of sentries placed by General Stephen around the landing- 
place had been called in, the order was given to "shoulder 
your iirelocks," the weary tramp in cold and sleet com- 
menced, and 

" Our gallant troops, with bayonets fix'd, 
To Trenton marched away." 

Instructions had been given to the men to march quietly, 
keep in good order in 
the ranks, give prompt 
obedience to their offi- 
cers, and to bear in mind 
the emphatic password, 
" Victory or Death." 

Although still dark, it 
was feared that the loyal- 
ists in the vicinity would 
betray them. We have 
seen that these fears were 
well founded, but the offi- V ■ 
cious labors of the Tory 
farmer were of no avail. 

It was a cold and 
cheerless morning. The 
ground was still covered 
with snow, and at times 
a storm of hail annoyed 
them ; the wind was east-northeast, and this made the storm 


before been taken prisoner by a Hessian party and confined in Trenton 
at the house on Tucker's corner, the southwest corner of Queen and 
Second streets; but he had escaped, and on Christmas morning, after 
being concealed in the very house which Colonel Rail had made his 
headquarters, he had assumed the character of an old woodman, with an 
axe on his shoulder, and had passed from the house beyond the guards 
and so up the river to give efficient aid to the patriot cause. 


beat, at least during a part of the march, rather more on the 
backs than in the faces of the men. The slippery condition 
of the road retarded their progress very much, and the want 
of proper clothing made their condition pitiable indeed. 

The army marched in column from the river to the Bear 
Tavern, a distance of about a mile, and then, moving silently 
past the quiet farmhouses and through 
forests of hickory and black oak on the 
River road, they came to Birmingham, 
somewhat more than three miles from 
the tavern. The general officers fre- 
quently spoke to their men, and urged 
them to retrieve the disasters on Lontr 
Island and at Forts Washington and Lee, 
and the sorrowful retreat through New 

Before they reached Birmingham, Cap- 
tain John Mott, a gallant officer, who 
had come from the Northern army with 
Maxwell and St. Clair to recrtnt men for 
the new establishment of the New Jersey 
Continental line, but who had volunteered 
to guide the troops on a road on which 
he himself lived, being armed with a fu- 
see, and walking in advance of the line, 
found that his priming powder was damp, 
although he had covered it with his hand- 
kerchief. He mentioned the fact to Gen- 
eral Sullivan, who, finding that all the 
arms were in more or less the same con- 
dition, called out, " Well, boys, we must 
fight them with the bayonet ! " 
When this mishap was announced to General Washington, 
he sent a similar reply by his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel Samuel B. Webb, " Then tell the general to use the 
bayonet and penetrate into the town ; for the town must be 
taken and I am resolved to take it." The spirited and em- 

/ ' '"/*«< 

iLX < .\KkIEIJ bV 




phatic nature of these instructions gave new courage to tlie 
troops ; they fixed their bayonets without an order, and 
pressed eagerly on in tlie march. 

At Birmingham, without dismounting from the chestnut 
sorrel horse which he rode that day, General Washington 
stopped for a moment, and partook of the hospitality of Ben- 
jamin Moore, while the column was halted, and the men 
made a hasty meal. When the order was given to march, 


a large number of the soldiers were found asleep by the road- 
side, and it was with diificulty that they could be aroused. 

The column was then broken into two divisions, which 
marched toward Trenton in different directions. Major- 
General Sullivan's first division, the right wing of the army, 
consisted of the brigades of Brigadier-General St. Clair, Colo- 
nel Glover and Colonel Sargent, with the batteries of Cap- 
tains Neil, riugg, Moulder and Sargent. This force went 
by the lower or River road. Major-General Greene's second 


division, the left wing of the army, consisted of the brigades 
of Brigadier-Generals Stephen, Mercer, Lord Stirling and 
de Fermoy, with Captain Morris's Philadelphia troop of light 
horse, and the batteries of Captains Forrest, Bauman and 
Hamilton. General Washington accompanied this division, 
which took the Scotch road, leading into the old road from 
the village of Pennington to Trenton. 



The distance from Birmingham to Trenton by either route 
was nearly equal, being between four and five miles, with 
perhaps a little advantage for General Sullivan's division on 
the River road. 

When each column had proceeded about one half of the 
required distance, the first signs of daylight began to appear, 


and the plan of a surprise in the darkness was necessarily 
abandoned. To retreat at this late hour was to draw upon 
them the Hessian force in strength ; but General Washing- 
ton, as he rode along, seemed wrapped in thought, and ever 
and anon called to his men, " Press on, press on, boys ! " 


On the Scotch road General Greene's division was joined 
by Captain Washington's company, which had been engaged 
in picking up men approaching or coming from the village, 
and the column then entered the Pennington road about a 
mile beyond the village. As soon as the town was descried, 
it is said that General Washington waved his sword, and ex- 
claimed, " There, my brave fellows, are the enemies of your 
country. Remember now what you are about to fight for." 
In his heart each man responded to the appeal of his chief- 
tain, and at this critical moment the cause of liberty nerved 
his arm, and inspired him with firmness and courage as he 
grasped his firelock. ^ 

^ In his Surprise of Trenton, Frank Forester, from whose works we 
have already quoted, has graphically described the situation : — 

" Yet his fate was on the cast — 

Life and fame and country all. 
Sterner game was never played : 

Death or Freedom — win or fall ! 
Fall he — and his country's hope 

Sets, a sun no more to rise ! 
Win he — and her dawning light 

Yet may fill the unfathom'd skies ! 
Fall he — and his name must wane, 

Rebel chief of rebel band ; 
\\'in he — it shall live forever, 

Father of his native land ! " 


We will now glance for a moment at Trenton just before 
the attack. At four o'clock in the morning, December 26, 
Lieutenant Fischer of the artillery, as was his custom, ordered 
the horses to be attached to two of the brass guns in front 
of the quarters of the watch-guard on King street, and 
directed bombardiers Geschwine and Schwindder to report 
to Colonel Rail that they were ready to make the early 
morning patrol to the "Doctor House,'' near the Trenton 
landing. Colonel Rail was asleep, but his adjutant, Lieu- 
tenant Piel, told them to go to Major von Dechow's quarters 
and get his orders, as he was the field officer on duty. This 
they did, but presently returned to Lieutenant Fischer with 
Major von Dechow's reply that the duty would be omitted for 
that morning. The horses were then unhitched and placed 
in stables. Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer afterward testified 
that he was uncertain whether Major von Dechow acted by 
Colonel Rail's orders or not. Had the artillery detachment 
made this early morning parade, they might have noticed 
the excitement incident to the attempt of General Ewing's 
force to cross the river, and it might have created an alarm 
in Trenton's village. 

It had been the custom of the yagers at the Dickinson 
house to make early morning patrols with twenty or thirty 
men, and usually a few English light horse, as far as John- 
son's Ferry, about four miles above Trenton. Only a few 
days previous Lieutenant von Grothausen had made this 
march and had encountered, as he said, one hundred and 
fifty Americans, had killed one of their horses and captured 
one of the men. The only semblance of a patrol on Decem- 
ber 26 was made about five o'clock in the morning by three 
yagers, who went as far up the river as the house of Captain 


K H_ H A K D 

John Mutt of the New Jersey Continental line, — the "rebel 
eaptain's house," as the German records call it, now on 
ground owned by the New Jersey Hospital for the Insane, 
on the west bank of the water power. They returned with 
the report that they had not seen any of the enemy. An 
hour latei^ and a march a mile farther would probably have 
changed the condition of affairs in Trenton at eight o'clock, 
and Washington would have found a foe ready to receive 
him. I'^very night this picket at the Dickinson house was 
reinforced by six or nine additional guards, but these men 
were always withdrawn at si.\ o'clock. In case of an alarm 
the entire picket was directed to fall back to Colonel Rail's 
quarters in the village and await further orders. 

At about a quarter of eight o'clock the advance party of 
the Americans came in sight of the Hessian picket post on 
the Pennington road. This post was at the house of Richard 
Howell and his son Arthur, both coopers by trade. The 
Germans called it an alarm-house, and when the guard occu- 
pied the building it was their custom to stack their arms at 
the door and leave a few sentinels in charge of them. 


It will be remembered that on the previous night Lieuten- 
ant Wiederhold had strengthened this picket with nine men, 
and that on his arrival his rank had placed him in command 
of the party. From his diary it appears that he had posted 
seven sentinels in the best possible positions against sur- 
prise, and during the night had sent out patrol after patrol 
to guard himself against an attack. His night posts had evi- 
dently been withdrawn, and he says that his day patrol had 
reported all quiet. Just at this moment he stepped out of 
the house, and through the edge of the woods saw the enemy 
approaching. His men, as he subsequently acknowledged, 
had not been sufficiently alert, but he made instant prepara- 
tion for what he at first thought to be a stray party of the 
Americans. It seemed to him there were about sixty men 
in sight, most of them being about two hundred yards away. 
Lieutenant Wiederhold' s sentinels challenged the American 
party, and David Lanning, the miller, before mentioned, being 
in the advance, answered the challenge, and unequivocally 
declared himself a friend to Washington. The guards then 
came running from the house, shouting " Der Feind ! Der 
Feind ! heraus ! heraus ! " ("The enemy ! The enemy ! Turn 
out ! Turn out ! ") 

The Americans fired three times at the picket ; but Lieu- 
tenant Wiederhold, thinking that they were still too far away, 
waited until they approached nearer, and then gave them a 
volley. The picket then began immediately to retire on their 
left, not by the roadway, but more across the fields toward 
Colonel Rail's quarters. They had not retreated far in this 
direction before they observed an American battalion and 
then three regiments coming in on their right, and cutting 
them off. This was General Mercer's brigade of Conti- 
nentals. Seeing this unexpected force, the picket hastily ran 
toward Captain Ernst Eber von Altenbockum's quarters, the 
house of Alexander Calhoun, at the head of the street now 
called by his name. Captain von Altenbockum's company 
was by this time under arms and on the road, and Lieutenant 
Wiederhold and his men placed themselves immediately on 

mS the battles of TRENTON AND PRINCETON 

von Altenbockum's right wing, and prepared to make a stand 
against the a])proaching foe. They had barely time to fire 
a voile)- ; the)- were nearly surrounded, and were obliged to 
retreat ver)- hurriedl}-. 

Then some of the main picket on the Maidenhead road, 
commandetl 1))' I^nsign Grabe of the von Lossberg regi- 
ment. Captain j-jrubach of the Rail regiment also accompany- 
ing them, hurried acrnss the open meadows toward Captain 
von Altenbockum's quaitei^s for the purpose of giving effi- 
cient aid in this emei-genc\- ; but they were still fi\'e hundred 
paces froui Alexander Calhoiui's house when they found 

Arj-:xANriKR ';a(.hoi:n's house 

that both the picket and the company were falling back on 
them in much haste. According to instructions previously 
given, the brigade of General Stephen had charged with 
great spirit up<m the retreating outpost, determined to push 
so rapidly into the village as to leave the Hessians, if pos- 
sible, no time to form. 



. i^/i * 



In the retreat down the Pennington road Captain von 
Altenlooclcuin lost his Heutenant and one of his company, 
botli killed before the}' had gone fifty paces from their qnar- 
ters. A sergeant and se\"eral enlisted men were severely 
wounded before they reached the junction of the roads, just 
north of the village. Lieutenant Georg Christian Kimm of 
the von Lossberg regiment, who fell thus early in the en- 
gagement, was a fine officer but eighteen )X'ars of age. The 
rush of the Americans placed them in possession of the 
dying man, who lay by the wayside. The kindly heart of 


the honest soldier, Captain Samuel Morris, commander of 
the Philadeli")hia ti'oop of light horse, was touched at his sad 
fate, and he would fain have attempted to relieve in some 
wa\- the sufferings of his fallen foe. But this was no time 

* hs^, 



for sympathy. The sharp order of General Greene recalled 
him to his duty, and the American column pushed on. 

It was nearly eight o'clock when General Greene's division 
forced the upper picket station, and three minutes later Gen- 
eral Sullivan's troops, which had previously made a brief 
halt at the cross-road leading to Howell's Ferry for the pur- 
pose of allowing the division on the upper road to gain time, 
struck the yager picket, consisting of one officer and iifty 
men, at " The Hermitage," the residence of General Phile- 
mon Dickinson, on the River road, just on the outskirts of 

Marching in advance of General Sullivan's column. Cap- 
tain John Flahaven, a gallant and ambitious officer of the 



First battalion, New Jersey Continental line, with a detach- 
ment of forty recruits for the new establishment, first came 
upon this picket station, and drove it in. Colonel Glover's 
brigade following up in pursuit of the retreating guards. 

As soon as Lieutenant F"riedrich Wilhelm von Grothausen 
of the Hessian yagers heard the firing on the Pennington 
road, and even before he saw the Americans coming out of 
the woods on the west side of Colonel Lambert Cadwalader's 
plantati(jn, he called Sergeant Georg Wilhelm Hassell and 
twelve of the guard to arms, and began to run toward the 
Pennington road alarm-house. Corporal Franz Bauer, the 
other non-commissioned officer, and the rest of the party in 
great haste posted themselves behind trees and fences to 
await developments. At the same time ten cannon-shots 


were fired at them from General Dickinson's forces on the 
west bank of the Delaware, but without doing them any 

Lieutenant von Grothausen and his detachment had not 
proceeded a thousand feet across the fields toward the as- 
saulted post on the Pennington road before they heard firing 


on their left, and saw another column of troops hastening 
in a direct line for their own alarm-house at the Dickinson 
homestead. It was apparent to the lieutenant that he must 
instantly retrace his steps and look after his yagers. This 
he did, bearing, however, toward the town and the river. In 
this way he was soon joined by Corporal Bauer and the rest 
of the command, who had left their knapsacks in the house, 
and were now hurriedly going toward the barracks. By this 
time, as they said, " the Americans were thick in their front." 
Coming near the old French and Indian war barracks on 
Front street, and receiving a few reinforcements, they 
opened fire on the Continentals. One volley was all they 
could give, for the foe was on them ; and as the guns of the 
yagers had no bayonets, the detachment retreated precipi- 
tately through Front street toward the Queen street bridge 
over the Assunpink Creek. Even at this moment they saw 
the American forces in the town, and knew that in a few 
minutes more they would be cut off from all communication 
with Colonel Rail's headquarters. They tried to ford the 
creek at King street, and some succeeded, but most of them 
ran on toward the bridge, which was still open. In the mean- 
time they had received no orders from Colonel Rail. In this 
race one yager was captured, though none were killed or 
wounded, and the rest of the picket escaped. 

Both of the Hessian picket parties exerted themselves as 
much as was possible under the circumstances, but of course 
they could do but little against such an overwhelming force. 
As they fell back into the town, they fired from every point 
where the slightest shelter could be found, but were quickly 
driven "pell-mell," as Colonel Knox said, by the rapid push 
of the Americans, who seemed to vie with each other in their 
efforts to be in the advance. There appears to be no doubt 
that the pickets on both roads at first supposed that these 
attacks were made by the little scouting party of the previ- 
ous day, and that they had simply returned to make another 
demonstration on the Hessian post. 

We left Captain von Altenbockum and his company. Lieu- 




tenant Wiederhold and his picket, and Captain ]:)rubach and 
Ensign Grabe and tlieir men of the main guard on the 
lower part of the Pennington road near King street, still 
trying to elude the eager pursuit of the American forces. 
When they reached the head of King and Queen streets. 
Captain von Altenbockimi and his men retired by Oueen 
street ; but the rest of the soldiers with Wiederhold and 
Brubach passed down Kmg street in the direction of Colo- 
nel Rail's quarters. In this way the latter party was forced 
U) go int(j the gardens between the tw(j streets just north of 
Church alley, and so into Oueen street, to escape the direct 
fire which opened upon them on the roadway. 

It has been stated that Lieutenant Jacob Piel of the \'on 
Lossberg regiment. Colonel Rail's brigade adjutant, had been 
awakened soon after five o'clock, and had directed the artil- 
lerymen of the grand patrol of the " Doctor House " to go 
t" Major von Dechow for orders. It seems that he did not 
go to sleep again, for he was the first officer in the village to 
hear the firing on the Pennington road. His quarters were 
in the house of Miss Rebecca Co.xe, the ne.xt house south of 
Colonel Rail's quarters on King street. Before si.x o'clock 
in the morning he was in Rail's room, but found him sleep- 


ing heavily. He called again about seven o'clock, but his 
commander was still asleep. When the firing was heard, he 
fan across the street to the headquarters watch-guard house, 
and started Lieutenant Johann Heinrich Sternickel, who was 
on duty there with thirty men of the guard, and ten others 
who had come out of their quarters on King street to learn 
what was the matter, up King street to aid, if possible, the 
picket post which was attacked. Then Lieutenant Piel 
knocked loudly at Colonel Rail's door, and soon Rail looked 
out from an upper window in his night-clothes, and called 
out to Piel, "What is the matter.''" Lieutenant Piel asked 
him if he had not heard the firing. Without answering this 
question Colonel Rail said, " I will be out in a minute," and 
in truth it did not take him long to reach the street. Before 


he had stepped out into the roadway, the American shot and 
shell were being fired down the street. 

Lieutenant Piel called also to his comrade, Lieutenant 
Hermann Zoll, adjutant of his own regiment, who quartered 
with him in the Coxe house, and Zoll was soon across the 
street and in the English Church, hurrying into the street 



the artiller)'mcn and the Scheffer company of his own regi- 
ment, and bringing out the five regimental colors which were 
kept in the church. Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer, although 
he had been quite ill for five days, "got out of a sick bed to 
fight," and was soon on duty. He sent Lieutenant Zoll to 


Colonel Rail, asking where he wished the von Lossberg regi- 
ment to be formed. Rail was just then mounting his horse, 
and he told Lieutenant Zoll to have them form on Church 
alley back of the poplar-trees, and with his hand he pointed 
to the place in the graveyard behind the English Church. 
They formed there, facing toward the north and the ap- 
proaching enemy. Colonel Rail then turned to ride a short 
distance down King street to where the Rail regiment had 
been quartered, and was now effecting a formation. 

This regiment, as will be remembered, was the regiment 
"of the day," and so, as- was to be expected, at least one 
half of the command was instantly under arms without any 


direct orders from Colonel Rail. At that time Lieutenant- 
Colonel Balthasar Brethauer was in command of the regi- 
ment. They formed on King street, facing east, with cen- 
tre in front of Pinkerton's alley, now East Hanover street. 
As soon as one of the battahons of the regiment was 
completed the)' immediately started up King street, and 
were soon joined by Colonel Rail, who was riding down 
to meet them. Already the shot from the American bat- 
teries was flying down the street and breaking into their 
ranks. They had just taken their flags from Colonel Rail's 
quarters and had advanced but a few steps beyond the 
house when they were greeted by a strong fire on their left 
flank from General Mercer's brigade, coming in from the 
rear of Potts's tannery, and some sharp musketry fire from 
the rear of William Tindall's and William Smith's property 
on Queen street. Here Lieutenant-Colonel Brethauer's 
horse was shot from under him, and he went back to his 
quarters to get another one, leaving Major Johann Jost 
Matthaus in command. Brethauer had been quite ill for 
several days and was too weak to walk. It does not appear 
that he took any further part in the fight. Lieutenant 
Sternickel's watch-guard could be seen just ahead of the 
Rail regiment, but the artillery fire from the head of the 
street soon scattered the guard, the lieutenant received 
a grievous wound, and the men ran over toward Queen 

At this moment Major Matthaus called out to Lieutenant 
Johannes Engelhardt to go ahead with the two cannon 
which had been stationed in front 'of the watch-guard house. 
The horses were already hitched, and Colonel Rail cried 
out in German to the commander of this section of the 
battery : " My God, Lieutenant Engelhardt, the picket is 
already coming in ! Push your cannon ahead ! " And the 
drivers shouted as the horses plunged forward. But they 
did not go far, not over one hundred and fifty feet, on the 
north side of the bridge over the little stream now called 
Petty's Run, when the destructive fire of the artillery at the 



head of the street 
reached them, and 
they were greatly 
annoyed by marks- 
men behind the 
fences which encir- 
cled Potts's tanyard. 
When he left the 
church Lieutenant 
Engelhardt had with 
him his bombardier, 
Westerburg, and sev- 
enteen men, but e\'en 
in this short time he 
lost several valuable 
soldiers. He took 
charge of one of the 
Rail guns, and Wes- 
terburg of the other. 
The\- immediatel)' 
fired six shots from 
each cannon, but be- 
fore this had been 
accomplished eight of 
the detachment were 
killed or wounded, 
leaving only six effec- 
tive men with one 
gun and four with the 
other. Artillerist 

Poland and artillerist 
Rieman were very 
badly wounded. Ar- 
tillerist Heutzemann 
was also wounded, 
and he afterward died 
of his wounds a pris- 



oner of war. Two men who had been detached from the 
Rail regiment for duty with the artillery and two men from 
the von Lossberg regiment received dangerous wounds. 
Three of the horses on one gun and two on the other had 
fallen with fatal inj uries. With the force then available the 
guns could not be taken off the street. Lieutenant Engel- 
hardt sent back to Colonel Rail for protection, and called out 
to Major Matthaus that he must be sustained or he would 
lose his guns. Matthaus promised that he would furnish 
support. Then Engelhardt ordered Westerburg to put 
grapeshot in his gun, and the thirteenth shot was fired at 
the enemy on the other side of the tanyard. 

In the mean time Colonel Rail had sent down to hurry 
the rest of the Rail regiment on the advance while he rode 
to the corner of Church alley and King street to look after 
the von Lossberg regiment. Many soldiers of the Rail regi- 
ment had already gone down King street and through Front 
street to escape at the bridge. At this moment word was 
brought him that the von Knyphausen regiment was fully 
formed on the lower part of Queen street and awaited 

As soon as the American column reached the place where 
King and Queen streets intersect, at the north portion of 
the town, their artillery was placed in position to rake the 
two principal streets of the village. Colonel Knox, under 
General Washington's orders, brought up four pieces of the 
six-gun battery of Captain Thomas Forrest, with the second 
company of the Pennsylvania State artillery battalion, and 
gave them the range down Queen street. Captain Alex- 
ander Hamilton's ^ New York State company of artillery, 

' The gallant Hamilton, not yet of age, with his young company, 
formerly known as the Provincial Company of Artillery of New York, 
was a model of discipline, and promptly answered the order to prepare 
for action. The personal appearance of the young artillerist at this 
time is fully described in the account given by Mrs. Catherine V. R. 
Cochrane, his sister-in-law, the youngest daughter of General Schuyler : 

" A small, lithe figure, instinct with life ; erect and steady in gait ; 
a military presence without the intolerable accuracy of a martinet, and 


then with the reserve, was also ordered up with its two guns 
to this, the highest point in the town, and from here they 
opened fire down King street.^ 

Surrounded by his staff and by his escort, the Philadelphia 
troop of light horse, General Washington took his position 
on the high ground on what is now Princeton avenue, op- 
posite Fountain avenue, formerly on the road leading to 
Nathan Beakes's plantation. This spot is now the northwest 
corner of a lot belonging to John S. Chambers, Esq. From 
this advantageous position he was able to overlook the town 
and direct the movements of his troops. The few scattered 
dwellings were but little hindrance to his quick perception of 
his own position and his keen observation of the movements 

his general address was graceful and nervous, indicating the beauty, 
energy and activity of his mind. A bright, ruddy complexion ; hght- 
colored hair ; a mouth infinite in expression, its sweet smile being most 
observable and most spoken of ; eyes lustrous with deep meaning and 
reflection, or glancing with quick canny pleasantry, and the whole coun- 
tenance decidedly Scottish in form and expression." 

1 The Trenton Battle Monument Association has erected in Trenton, 
New Jersey, a great memorial column to commemorate the victory 
gained by the Continental troops over the army of Great Britain in the 
war for independence. It stands at the junction of five streets, and on 
the exact spot where the American artillery opened on the Hessian foe. 
The monument is from a design prepared by John H. Duncan of New 
York city, and the style of the column is that known as Roman-Doric. 
The shaft is of white granite from the granite works at Hallowell, 
Maine. The entire structure is one hundred and fifty feet in height, 
and is surmounted by a bronze statue of General Washington, by Wil- 
liam R. O'Donovan of New York city. On the base of the monument 
are three tablets, sculptured by Thomas Eakins of Philadelphia and 
Karl H. Niehaus of New York city, depicting the Continental army 
crossing the Delaware River, the opening of the fight, and the sur- 
render of the Hessians. The fourth side of the base contains the 
memorial inscription. At the doorway of the monument are two bronze 
statues, one of private John Russell of Colonel John Glover's Conti- 
nental regiment from Marblehead, Massachusetts, and the other of 
private Blair McClenachan of the Philadelphia troop of light horse. 
This monument, the outcome of many years of effort by the associa- 
tion, will be found worthy alike of the event it commemorates and of 
the progress the country has made in the arts. 


and subsequent consternation of the Hessian foe. There 
is a tradition in Trenton, which cann(jt now be verified, that 
at this spot a bullet struck the chestnut sorrel horse on 
which General Washington rode that clay, and so disabled 
the animal that another had to be procured for the general, 
the wounded horse being left in the \-illage for treatment. 
It has been stated that the von I^ossberg regiment formed 


in the graveyard back of the English Church. The von 
Hanstein compan\' of that regiment, which had been quar- 
tered on the south side of the Assunpink Creek, having 
received orders from Captain Friedrich Wilhelm von Ben- 
ning, came up on a run to the alley near King street, where 
they took position on the left wing, next to the von Loos 


jL'MJ WHERJ^ WA^^HING tux RliiMAl.N' lilJ ])LKIi\i 


company of their own regiment. Just at this moment Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Scheffer, who had received instructions from 
Colonel Rail, ordered them out of the alley and up King- 
street. They had not made forty steps before the body 
company on the right wing received a heavy fire of shell 
from Hamilton's battery at the head of the street. Falling 
back to escape the fire, they faced the northeast and the 
woods on the out.skirts of the town. Several of the men of 
the regiment were badly wounded at this time. 

The battalion of the Rail regiment which had advanced 
up King street as far as the little bridge where the Hessian 
cannon were being fired, delivered two volleys at the Amer- 
icans and then fell back in much disorder, throwing the left 
wing of the von Lossberg regiment nito great confusion. 
The flags of the Rail regiment came into the possession 
and protection of the von Hanstein company of the von 
Lossbero- regiment. The picket of Lieutenant Wiederhold, 
two of whom had been wounded, though none were killed 
or captured, also fell back on the von Lossberg regiment. 
Lieutenant Wiederhold was here accosted by Colonel Rail, 
whom he told not to underrate the enemy, "for they are 


very strong." Wiederhold and his men continued tlieir re- 
treat down Queen street, and eventually joined the von 
Knyphausen regiment before it left Second street for the 

Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer instantly ordered his von 
Lossberg regiment to wheel on the right, thus bringing 
their front obliquely toward the woods, and their back to- 
ward the town. Captain Adam Christoph Steding, with the 
Scheffer company, one half of the von Hanstein company, 
and part of the body company, then attempted to dislodge 
some Americans who had come down in the advance on 
Queen street, taken shelter behind some board fences, and 
through the apertures were doing great damage as sharp- 
shooters. This effort, however, was ineffectual. 

As soon as the Rail battalion gave way, Lieutenant En- 
gelhardt and his artillerists who were still uninjured dropped 
their rammers, sponges and handspikes and took flight 
across the gardens toward the corner of Church alley and 
Queen street. They were powerless and panic-struck. 
They had gone but forty steps from the "broken-down 
house," as German records call it, of Richard Norris, a stay- 
maker, on the west side of King street, when the Americans 
had possession of the two Rail cannon. Lieutenant Engel- 
hardt reported to Colonel Rail, whom he found near the 
corner referred to, still mounted, sword in hand, and with 
his men gathered around him in much confusion. He called 
out, " Colonel Rail, there is yet time to save the cannon." 
Receiving no answer, he again shouted out the same state- 
ment. The colonel seemed greatly bewildered, for by this 
time he heard the sharp reports of the rifles of General 
Sullivan's men on his left, and he only said in German, 
" Lord, Lord, what is it, what is it .'' " Lieutenant Gregorius 
Salzmann, who was standing near Colonel Rail, repeated 
Engelhardt's remark. The colonel replied, " Never mind, 
we will soon have them back," and shouted, " Forward, 
men, forward ! " but the men did not obey. Then Lieu- 
tenant Engelhardt, bombardier Westerburg, bombardier 


Ide and the rest of the detachment about them, went 
throuijh the rear of the houses on King and Queen streets, 
and beat their way toward the creek. A considerable num- 
ber of the Rail regiment also ran away down Queen street. 
Passing across Second street, the lieutenant told Major von 
Dechow of the von Knyphauseu regiment of the loss of the 
cannon, and as he pushed on, heard the reply, "Vov God's 
sake, I understand ! " l^eceiving some shots from an ad- 
vance party of Colonel Glover's men behind a red board 
fence between the creek and the house (if the loyalist Major 
John liarnes on the west side of Queen street, the)' escaped 
over the stone bridge and thence to Bordcntown. 

Glancing again at the Americans, we note that as soon as 

f^Wt^ '*^*^**«ff 




Bronze Table! ^'n the Treiifoit Bei/tle H/omnjieiit 

Stephen's brigade, the advance of Greene's division, came 
to the head of King street, it was dispatched up the liiams- 
wick road to prevent the escape of the Hessians toward 
Maidenhead. General de P'ermoy's brigade followed that of 
General Stephen under orders to the same effect, and the 
two brigades formed a strong double line, with their left 


on the Assunpink Creek, and tlius effectually prevented 
any flight northward. Loi^d Stirling's brigade, heretofore 
the reserve, was now about at the head of King street, and 
the denioraliziiif;- effect of the ouns of the American bat- 


teries being noticed, an instant charge was ordered. Colo- 
nel Weedon's regiment of Stirling's brigade was in the 
ad\'ance, and Cajitain William Washington of that regiment, 
with his lieutenant, James Monroe, leading their men, made 
a quick dash down tlie street, and, as we ha\'e already stated, 
took the two brass three-pounder guns of the Rail regi- 
ment. Both officers were W(.)unded in this exploit, the cap- 
tain being injured in b(jth hands, and Monroe hit in the 
shoulder by a ball, which cut an aitery. During the war 
these officers continued to add new lustre to their names.^ 

1 Captain \Vasliina;ton, afterwards promoted colonel of a cavalry 
regiment on the Continental establishment, was a soldier of great per- 
sonal strength and commanding presence, although modest in demeanor. 
At tlie battle of Cowpens lie distinguished himself ■• by a brilliant speci- 



As Captain von Altenbockum's company retired down 
Queen street, tlie shots from Captain Forrest's battery fol- 
lowed fast after them. Hitherto the Hessian captain had 
given his orders with much presence of mind, and by a 
proper defense had, as he thought, kept the American col- 
umn in check to some extent. At this instant he received a 
severe wound in the head, fell to the ground, and was for a 
time unconscious. Sergeant Christian Kyssell and fusiliers 
Heinrich Baude and Heinrich Spier of his company were 
killed by the same volley. Although Captain Brubach was 


retiring with this company, Ensign Cjrabe, being the second 
officer of von Altenbockum's company, took immediate com- 
mand. At last the company came in line on the left wing 

men of innate valor,'' as we are informed by the in.scription wliich Con- 
gress ordered placed on a medal presented to liini. Lieutenant Monroe, 
like his great chief, e.xclianged the duties of a soldier for those of tlie 
President of a free repuljlic. 


and merged itself into the ranks of its own von Lossberg 
regiment as this organization was moving away from the 
village in a northeasterly direction toward the low ground 
east of Queen street and the head of Dark lane. This 
movement was by Colonel Rail's orders, and he accompanied, 
it for some distance with such of the Rail regiment as had 
not already escaped. On the march an officer of the von 
Knyphausen regiment saluted Colonel Rail and received 
orders from him to direct Major von Dechow and his regi- 
ment to fall back, if hard pressed, toward the orchard. 

Lieutenant Friedrich Fischer of the artillery, accompanied 
by bombardier Conrad Volprecht and about fourteen, ma- 
trosses, took two of the guns of the von Knyphausen regir 
ment a short distance up Queen street, near the south line 
of James Linn's property, for the purpose of opposing a 
charge down Queen street, if one should be made. Vol- 
precht was able to fire five shots at the foe, and Lieutenant 
Fischer discharged the other gun three times. One cannon- 
shot from Captain Forrest's Pennsylvania battery, before 
General Mercer's charge was made, killed three of the horses 
of the German artillery detachment. Then one of the guns 
failed to go off, became useless, and the most reliable gunner 
in the party was killed. This took scarcely ten minutes, and 
the entire section, guns and men, came very near being sur- 
rounded. Lieutenant Fischer fired one grapeshot from the 
other gun, and then, his own horse having been shot from 
under him, he hurried off with the cannon to join the Rail 
and von Lossberg regiments, at that moment returning to 
attack the town. Bombardier Volprecht, however, ran down 
Queen street with some of the matrosses, and joined the 
artillerymen with the von Lossberg guns, which were attached 
to the von Knyphausen regiment. 

The whole town was now in an uproar. The Americans 
were pressing in on every side, deadly shots were being fired 
from houses and cellars and from behind fences and trees, 
and it was hard to bring the confused Hessian battalions up 
to the work. General Sullivan's division was rapidly taking 



p(i.ssession of the southern part of the town. It is said that 
at this time the soldiers cried, "These are the times tliat 
try men's souls," as they pursued the Hessian foe. If this 
is correct, the stirring words of Thomas Paine were no doubt 
instrimiental in bringing triumph to the American arms. 

i_Al^TAI.\ Tlin.MAS l-(jRRh^i 

Colonel John Stark's first New Hampshire regiment led 
the right of St. Clair's brigade, and with Captain Moulder's 
battery wheeled rapidly at Alexander Chambers's store, on 
the corner of Second street and the River road, now the 
corner of Willow and State streets, and as quickly pushed 
eastward through Second street in the direction of the von 
Knyphausen regiment, then marching toward them in front 
of the Bull Head Tavern. "The dauntless Stark," says 


Major Wilkinson, in his "Memoirs," "dealt death wherever he 
found resistance, and broke down all opposition before him." 
Captain Ebenezer Frye, a very corpulent officer of Stark's 
regiment, Sergeant Ephraim Stevens and sixteen men of his 
Derryfield company kept constantly at the front, and, it is 
said, with his little ragged squad captured sixty Hessians, 
who were first astonished at the sudden onset, and then still 
more astounded that they had allowed themselves to be 
taken by such an insignificant party. 

The rest of the first division — Colonel Sargent's brigade 
with Neil's battery, and Glover's brigade with Sargent's 
Massachusetts battery attached, Major-General Sullivan in 
person leading this column — marched to Front street, sent a 
force to take possession of the barracks, and then, in the 
quickest manner possible ran through Front street to Queen 
street, hoping to cut off all escape at the bridge over the 
Assunpink Creek. In this they were only partially success- 
ful. Colonel Glover's brigade, having crossed the bridge, 
immediately turned to the left and took position on the high 
ground south of the creek. 

We left the Rail and the von Lossberg regiments with- 
drawing from the village on a low, level plot of ground which 
we can locate without doubt as between what is now Mont- 
gomery and Stockton streets, north of Perry street, and 
commonly known as "The Swamp." The fragment of the 
Rail regiment had by this time been reduced to some kind 
of order by the exertions of Ensign Carl Wilhelm Klein- 
schmidt, the adjutant of the regiment. He secured the 
flags, which he again posted with the proper company in 
charge of them. Major von Hanstein here asked Colonel 
Rail what was the next thing to be done. At first it seemed 
as though the colonel could not come to a decision. Von 
Hanstein said again to Rail, "If you will not let us press 
forward up this street, then we must retreat to the bridge ; 
otherwise the whole affair will end disastrously.'' To this 
Colonel Rail assented. 

Then the two regiments, by direct command of Lieu- 



tenant-Colonel Scheffer, probably in accordance with Colonel 
Rail's orders, wheeled about and faced the town, the von 
Lossberg regiment being on the right of the line. hVom 
his horse Colonel Rail made every effort to place these two 


//; (In- Capital al IWishiaj^ton 

organizations in readiness for a determined attempt to regain 
the lost ground by making a direct attack on the village. 
" Forward march ! " he cried, " and attack them with the bayo- 
net." As they started again in "good order," so we are told 
in the German records, the Rail regiment once more fell 
into confusion from1:he effects of the sharp firing from the 
adjacent houses and from Captain Forrest's battery. The 


men were now continually falling with grievous wounds and 
dying in the street, and the officers strenuously striving to pre- 
serve intact the formation of these organizations. The band 
of the brigade began to play for the encouragement of the 
men, and in this way the two regiments at last came back to 
Queen street below Church alley. They found, however, 
that the houses at this point were full of the enemy, who 
were shooting them down at every moment. About this 
time Colonel Rail received a slight wound, which annoyed 
him very much, and he said weakened him ; but it did not 
in any way disable him, nor did he cease urging his soldiers 
to continue the attack. He told Major von Hanstein that 
he was wounded, but that he did not think it would amount 
to much. Yet he was apparently getting weaker from the 
loss of blood. The von Lossberg regiment had still igg 
men in line, and retained some semblance of a fighting 

The von Knyphausen regiment was all this time struggling 
on Second street with St. Clair's Continental brigade. The 
regiment had formed on Queen street above and below 
Second street, the flags had been taken out of Major von 
Dechow's quarters, and then for fifteen minutes they had 
stood inactive waiting for orders. In the mean time Major 
von Dechow had galloped down to the Assunpink Creek 
bridge, and had directed Sergeant Johannes Mueller, who 
was in charge of the guard, to hold out as long as possible, if 
attacked, and if driven off to report to him. At last orders 
came to the major from Colonel Rail, and the von Dechow 
company. Lieutenant Nicholas Vaupell and Lieutenant Carl 
Ludwig von Geyso in charge, was ordered to remain where 
it was for the purpose of keeping open the passage to 
the bridge. One half of the company faced north, and the 
other half toward the west. The other, four companies of 
the regiment. Captain Ludwig Wilhelm von Lowenstein and 
his company on the right, then marched along Second street 
as far as the intersection of King street. * Here they received 
a severe fire from the Americans in front of Mr. Davies's 



house, a building afterwards known as the "General Zebulon 
Pike house," and they could see the American f()rce coming 
down King street, e\'en then near Colonel Rail's headquar- 
ters. The)' now retired back to Queen street, where they 
were thrown into some confusion by the fugitives and strag- 
glers from the Rail regiment, who had escaped through 
Pinkerton's alley from King street or had run down with 
Engelhardt's artillerymen from Church alley, and were seek- 
ing to escape from the fight by way of the Queen street 
bridge over the creek. 

Some of the men of the Rail and von Possberg regiments 
were doing all that the members of such a demoralized force 
could do to dri\'e back the Americans who were pushing 
through from Kina: street into C>ueen street. The smoke of 


the battle was now enveloping the streets, and, with the 
storm of sleet, rendered it difficult to discern friend from foe. 
The Americans were before them, on their right flank, and 
coming in behind them, and all this time but few of their 
firelocks would go off. Captain Steding told his company to 
chip their flints a little, but this had no effect, as the powder 
in the pan was wet. As they again reached the place where 
Church alley runs into Queen street, the flring became 


more severe, and fourteen men of the von Lossberg regi- 
ment were killed or wounded. Here Captain Johann Fried- 
rich von Riess of this regiment was instantly killed. He 
was a brave and gallant officer, and had been exerting him- 
self in the most praiseworthy manner to urge his company 
to make an effective resistance. Lieutenant Georg Christian 
Kimm was also killed by the side of Captain vOn Riess. 

A moment later Lieutenant Ernst Christian Schwabe of the 
same regiment received a severe wound through the thigh ; 
and as he was being carried behind Isaac Yard's house, he 
called out to Ensign Friedrich von Zengen to take command 
of his company, and exhorted tbe men to fight bravely. 

Colonel Rail was still on horseback, and, his force was 
gathered around him. Captain Friedrich Wilhelm von Ben- 
ning, who from the time the first shot had been fired on 
the picket had been striving most gallantly to do his duty 
in the von Lossberg regiment, was now instantly killed, and 
his body lay in the street where he fell. Captain Adam 
Christoph Steding, Lieutenant Wilhelm Christian Miiller, 
Ensign Christian August von Hobe and some of the bravest 
men of both regiments made a little stand, and fired at the 
Americans in and through Church alley, desiring to delay 
and, if possible, to prevent a retreat. The two regiments 
were again much mixed up, although the men were appar- 
ently fighting as hard as they could. Ensign von Hobe re- 
ceived a spent ball in his leg, and he hobbled off to the frame 
meeting house of the Methodists, on the corner of Queen 
and Fourth streets, for protection from further injury. Lieu- 
tenant Georg Hermann Zoll, the von Lossberg regimental 
adjutant, also received a severe wound in his spine from a 
bullet fired from a house by a keen-eyed rifleman, and he lay 
in the street weltering in his blood. After the battle he was 
paroled, but he remained in Trenton several months. So 
the stand made by Captain Steding and his men, while it had 
no effect on the Americans, had caused a loss of fifteen men 
killed and wounded of his own little party. 

Adjutant Jacob Piel here told Colonel Rail that he thought 



Mi-nuoDisr (.hur<:h, (.urnlk 

they should retreat to the Assunpink Creek bridge, and Rail 
sent him to see if they could get through. He went down 
nearly to Major \'on Dechow's quarters, not far from the 
corner of Queen and Second streets, and found that the 
enemy had full possession of the bridge. As he approached 
the American force, he mistook them in the storm for the 
men of the von Knyphausen regiment, and he was within 
thirty paces of them before he discovered his mistake. He 
reported to Colonel Rail that it was then too late, and there- 
fore no orders were issued by Rail to escape by this bridge. 
The Hessian colonel was then shouting to his soldiers, " Alles 
was meine Grenadiere sind, vorwarts ! " ("All who are my 
grenadiers, forward ! ") But in \ain he urged them to ad- 
vance. He was then apparently uncertain just what to do, 
and as the valuable moments flew by, the Americans 
pressed closer and closer on him. The galling fire of the 
patriot army was doing great damage among the Hessian 


troops. The bayonet, on which Rail had boastingly relied, 
did not now prove effective, while the deadly lead was every 
moment disposing of his fighting men. By this time two 
cannon of Captain Joseph Moulder's second company of 
artillery of Philadelphia Associators, attached to General 
Sullivan's division, had opened up on Queen street from 
the corner of Second street. 

According to the statement of Ensign Grabe, an order 
was then issued by Colonel Rail to retreat out Third and 
Fourth streets toward the apple orchard. The command 
had hardly been given before the colonel fell from his horse 
with two fearful wounds in his side. This was directly in 
front of the house of Isaac Yard, on the west side of Queen 
street, about two hundred feet north of Pinkerton's alley, 
now East Hanover street. Colonel Rail lay on the ground 
for a few minutes, and then, leaning on two soldiers, he 
walked with much pain out of the street and into the Meth- 
odist Church, on Queen and Fourth streets. ■' 

As he was painfully making his way toward the church. 
Colonel Rail saw Lieutenant Zoll lying near a house, severely 
wounded, and he asked him if he was injured. On receiving 
an affirmative reply. Rail said, " I pity you." Zoll, however, 
recovered, but Rail died. 

The retreat through the two short streets eastward had 
begun in much confusion, as Major Matthaus of the Rail 
regiment, hurrying up to Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer, at the 
other end of the column, informed him that Colonel Rail 
was badly wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer said that 
the best thing to do now was to break through anywhere 
and escape. Captain Steding and his men were still making 

1 Some histories say that Major Frederick Frelinghuysen of the 
New Jersey militia fired the shot which injured Colonel Rail. It is ex- 
ceedingly doubtful if such an act could have been verified even at the 
time, and Major Frelinghuysen, who was an officer on the staff of Gen- 
eral Philemon Dickinson, commanding officer of the New Jersey militia, 
is supposed to have been where his duty required him that day, — on 
the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River, endeavoring to cross with 
the division of General Ewing. 



some futile efforts to keep the Americans in check, and the 
retreat eastward had begun before he was aware of it. Lieu- 
tenant Miiller called out to him, " The enemy are on us ! " 
and it was with great difficulty that Captain Steding reached 
the retreating regiments. 

By this time Captain von Altenbockum, who had some- 
what recovered from the shock of the bullet which had 
struck his head, having mounted Colonel Rail's horse, rode 
after his regiment toward the orchard. He was soon over- 
taken, however, by an American officer, who carried him to 


what proved to be Lieutenant-Colonel Brethauer's quarters. 
Here that officer was found quite ill and being bled by a 
Hessian surgeon. 

As the two retreating regiments came near the orchard, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer and Majors von Hanstein and 
Matthaus, the three remaining field officers, held a brief 
council of war as to what was now to be done. They all 
agreed that they must immediately make one desperate ef- 
fort, and if possible break through in the direction of the 
Brunswick road, or cross one of the upper fords of the As- 
sunpink Creek, and try to reach Princeton. When they 
came to the place in the orchard where this must be done, if 
at all, they saw the brigades of General Stephen and General 


de Fermoy, with two well-formed fronts and a number of can- 
non, ready to receive them. Instantly these guns began to 
play on the flanks of the two bewildered regiments. They 
wavered, and fell back fifty paces within the orchard. 

While all these events were taking place, quite a demoral- 
ized party of stragglers from the Rail, von Lossberg and von 
Knyphausen regiments tried to reach the Queen street 
bridge, but were caught between the commands of General 
St. Clair and Colonel Sargent, and were taken prisoners on 
Queen street between Second and Front streets. They 
surrendered in front of what is now Taylor Opera House, 
and hence this is often erroneously called the place of sur- 
render of the Hessian troops. 

As Sullivan's division, still pursuing the main body of the 
von Knyphausen regiment, came near the Presbyterian 
Church on Second street, a vigorous resistance was made 
for a few moments by the German troops. Here Major 
Friedrich Ludwig von Dechow, the commander of the regi- 
ment, was severely wounded in the left hip, and his horse 
also being wounded, he was obliged to dismount. Then, 
although suffering greatly, he took his adjutant's horse, and 
Lieutenant Christian Sobbe having assisted him to mount, 
the major continued with his regiment down the field and 
on the edge of the apple orchard, bearing rather more to- 
ward the creek than keeping to the road which led through 
the orchard to Samuel Henry's iron-works. He was soon 
compelled to dismount again, however, as riding made his 
wound more painful. Another fine officer was wounded near 
the church. Lieutenant Carl Ludwig von Geyso ; his wound 
was only in the hand, but it caused him much pain. The 
lieutenant also kept on with his company. All this time 
not one gun in twenty would go off on account of the wet 

The rush of the American brigade on Second street, with 
the gallant Colonel Stark still leading the light infantry and 
shouting as he drove the foe, made considerable uproar and 
kept up the confusion in the town. The rally and stand of 


the Hessians was soon over, and they were hurried into a 
field on the edge of the orchard east of what is now Mont- 
gomery street and just north of the Assunpink Creek. 

As the von Knyphausen regiment was retreating to the 
low ground of the creek, Captain Bernhard von Biesenrodt 
came up to Major von Dechow and asked him if they should 
not make an effort to reach the stone bridge. They were 
then receiving some fire from Second street and some from 
the vicinity of the bridge, but they were unaware of the 
strength of the force at the latter place. 


Without having given any definite reply or new orders 
to Captain von Biesenrodt, Major von Dechow, wlio had 
been growing weaker and weaker, gave up the command 
to him, as next senior officer, on the low ground near the 
creek. Captain von Biesenrodt immediately formed the 
regiment with front toward the town, and gave orders for 
them to march by the left to the bridge, for he was deter- 
mined to take it and effect an escape at any cost. He soon 
found, however, that the narrow bridge was strongly guarded 
and that the Americans had their artillery in position to 
command it from the heights beyond. He then halted the 
von Knyphausen regiment, wheeled them to the right, took 
a path along the creek, and again sought the outskirts of the 
orchard, with the intention of trying to ford the creek some- 
where. They soon found themselves in a bad position, on 
low, swampy ground, with a thickly wooded elevation in front 
of them and a deep and broad creek in their rear. The von 
Borck company was now on the right and the von Dechow 
company on the left wings of the regiment. 

The two von Lossberg cannon, which that day were with 
the von Knyphausen regiment, here became stuck in the 
marshy ground. Much valuable time was lost in trying to 
extricate them from this morass, but all efforts were inef- 
fectual, and at last the cannon were abandoned. While the 
Hessians were struggling to recover the guns, the enemy 
began to fire at them with shot and shell from Captain- 
Lieutenant Winthrop Sargent's Massachusetts battery across 
the creek on the high ground to the south. 

Major von Dechow, who had been leaning against a fence 
while these movements were taking place, now descried 
Captain Ludwig Wilhelm von Lowenstein some fifteen 


paces away and called to him. When that officer came up, 
von Dechow told him to say to Captain von Biesenrodt that 
he would better surrender, as it was quite evident to him 
that the Rail and von Lossberg regiments were about to 
do so. Captain von Lowenstein declared that he would not 
as long as there were still two ways of escape open. " I 
know," he continued, " that a few steps from where we are 
it is shallow water in the creek, and we can ford it." 
Major von Dechow replied : " I order you to tell Captain 
von Biesenrodt what I have said to you." Then von Lowen- 
stein walked over to Captain von Biesenrodt, gave him the 
message, to which he received no response, and returned to 
Major von Dechow. That officer was still leaning against 
the fence when Captain von Lowenstein came to him and 
reported Captain von Biesenrodt's indifference to his com- 
mands. Major von Dechow then repeated them, and with 
the aid of Corporal Kustner he hobbled along Sunderland's 
alley, now East Front street, toward Queen street. The 
corporal tied a white handkerchief on a spontoon, which 
he held up as they went together in the direction of Joshua 
Newbold's house, to give themselves up as prisoners. The 
men of the von Knyphausen regiment were afterward much 
aggrieved at this action of their commander, because, as 
they said, by this he gave to the enemy the knowledge of 
their position, which must have been much hidden by the 
intervening woods at the time. The corner of Queen and 
Front streets was then held by Colonel Sargent's brigade, 
Major-General Sullivan being with them. Major von De- 
chow must have surrendered and given up his sword to 
General Sullivan as soon as he reached Queen street. A 
strange incident is found in the German records at Mar- 
burg, — that General Sullivan took from a Hessian officer 
the knot of his sword and fastened it to his own. If this 
really happened, this was the time and place of the occur- 
rence, and Major von Dechow was the Hessian whose sword- 
knot was fastened to the sword of the gallant Sullivan. 

Captain von Biesenrodt then sent Captain von Lowen- 


stein, Staff-Captain Jacob Baum, Lieutenant Nicholas Vau- 
pell, Corporal Heeland of the von Minnigerode company 
and some few soldiers up the bank of the creek to find a 
place where a crossing would be feasible. They worked 
through the thick underbrush for some distance until they 
heard a friendly voice call from the other side of the stream 
that they were now at the best place for fording. Several 
battalions of the Americans, the men of Colonel John 
Glover's brigade, could then be seen on the heights lower 
down the creek. Both Captain von Lowenstein and Lieu- 
tenant Vaupell went down into the ice-cold water, sounding 
its depth with their spontoons, and they soon determined 
that the passage could be effected. Captain Barthold Hel- 
frich von Schimmelpfennig, Lieutenant von Geyso and a 
number of the men with them soon joined the first party 
and told them that their regiment was really surrounded 
and must soon surrender, and that they had determined to 
take the risk of fording the creek, although the men then 
trying it were up to their necks in the water and said that 
the bottom was muddy. 

All the servants and women attached to the several regi- 
ments, with the exception of the few who had escaped over 
the bridge at the first alarm, had gathered down by the 
creek with some of the musicians, and a lot of the baggage of 
the Hessian brigade. These men and women made a great 
noise, attracted much attention and increased the panic and 
disorder in the von Knyphausen regiment. 

We left the Rail and von Lossberg regiments within the 
orchard just east of the Friends' Meeting House on Third, 
now East Hanover street. They could easily see the cor- 
don of excited American soldiers which had encircled them, 
confident of victory, and the line of guns which had formed 
a semicircle before them. Captain Forrest's six-gun battery 
had come down from the head of Queen street, and was 
now ready to fire upon them. Behind these guns regiment 
after regiment stood ready to execute the last order, which 
certainly would have exterminated them. The American 



officers then called out to them to throw down their arms 
and surrender or they would be shot down. Ensign Carl 
Wilhelm Kleinschmidt, the adjutant of the Rail regiment, 
had become slightly familiar with the English language, and 
he interpreted this forcible expression to his comrades. 
The American line was now within sixty feet of the two 
German regiments. Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer called out 


to an American officer who was mounted in front of him, 
that he believed they would have to surrender. An office)-, 
apparently an aide to a general officer, so the German 
records read, but more likely I^ieutenant-Colonel George 
Baylor, one of General Washington's aides-de-camp, rode up 
to the Hessian line, where he was met by Lieutenant-Colonel 
Scheffer and Major von Hanstein, and after a few moments' 
conversation they separated, and the two regiments surren- 
dered. Then the ten standards were lowered, the arms 


grounded, and the officers placed their hats on the points 
of their swords and held them up in token of submission. 
Some of the soldiers, however, inwardly raging at this indig- 
nity, broke the stocks of their guns against the ground, 
others cut the straps of their cartridge pouches, and still 
others, instead of placing, their guns in front of them on the 
ground as they should have done, according to the custom 
of war, threw them as far as they could into the woods. 
General Lord Stirling, as the senior officer in the advance, 
rode forward and received the swords of the officers who 
had thus surrendered, and placed them in the custody of 
Colonel Clement Biddle, deputy quartermaster-general. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Baylor was at this time riding back 
up Queen street as fast as his horse could carry him, to take 
the good news to General Washington. 

While these ceremonies were being performed, the von 
Knyphausen regiment under Captain von Biesenrodt's orders 
had sent out Lieutenant Werner von Ferry with a detach- 
ment of skirmishers to the high ground in the direction of 
the rear of William Roscoe's house and the Presbyterian 
Church, to see if the enemy were approaching, and if possi- 
ble to cover the regiment while a determined effort was 
made to cross the creek. Then Captain von Biesenrodt, 
again saying that he would not surrender, gave the order 
for the regiment to go down to where Captain von Schim- 
melpfennig and Captain Baum could be seen trying to wade 
across the creek. By this time they could hear the shout- 
ing of the Americans, and they knew full well that the other 
two regiments had surrendered. Soon the Continental 
troops pressed upon the Hessian skirmishers, and they were 
obliged to retreat, as three cannon were turned upon them. 

In the mean time Lieutenant Vaupell was well across the 
creek. He had lost his footing several times, but had caught 
a root of a tree with his spontoon, and so with much dif- 
ficulty and clanger was now nearing the opposite shore. He 
was followed by Captain von Schimmelpfennig and Captain 
Baum and quite a number of their men, who had all selected 


1 ,83 

different places at which to ford the stream. Fusileer Conrad 
Muhling of the von Borck company came near drowning, 
and was rescued with the greatest difficulty. Lieutenant 
von Geyso, the wounded officer, left the \'on Knyphausen 
regiment when he saw that its capture was ine\'itable, and 
made his way across the creek. Three of his soldiers who 
accompanied him were carried away by the current, and 
drowned. Some few men wdio started to go througli the 
chilling waters of the stream, and found it very deep, turned 
about and rejoined their regiment. 

While this attempt was being made, St. Clair's brigade 




f ;, 



-idt ' 


i >y. 





Bronze TaUet on llio Trenton. Baltic .Uonniiieiii 

(the records in Germany erroneously refer to it as Stirling's 
brigade) with Captain Moulder's two cannon were pressing 
on toward the creek, and soon the)' faced the right flank of 
the von Knyphausen regiment. Halting about forty paces 
distant, they fired a volley at the regiment, but they aimed 
too high for execution. An American officer, probably 
Major James Wilkinson (afterward General Wilkinson), who 
was General St. Clair's aide-de-camp that day, came forward 
and tried to attract the attention of Captain von 13iesenrodt. 


The captain shouted to him to stop, or he would shoot 
him. Lieutenant Wiederhold, the officer who commanded 
the Pennington road picket, was then sent out to talk with 
the American officer. On his return to the regiment, 
Wiederhold told Captain von Biesenrodt that the officer 
had said, in behalf of General St. Clair, that they must 
surrender, as the other two regiments had done. Firing was 
still heard while this interview was taking place, presumably 
in an attempt to disable the men who were trying to escape 
over the creek. Lieutenant Wiederhold returned to the 
American officer, and reported that Captain von Biesenrodt 
declined to surrender his command. The lieutenant was 
then taken to General St. Claii", who insisted that there was 
nothing further to do ; the bridge, the fords, the roads and 
the passes were all in their hands, and further sacrifice 
of life was useless. "Tell your commanding officer,'' he 
added, "that if you do not surrender immediately, I will 
blow you to pieces. Go and bring your commandant here," 
continued General St. Clair, and after a brief interval Cap- 
tain von Biesenrodt approached. Lieutenant Wiederhold 
accompanying him as interpreter. General St. Clair repeated 
his severe and peremptory threat. Then Captain von Bies- 
enrodt, by this time clearly seeing the perilous situation of 
his regiment, asked that his officers might keep their swords 
and baggage, and the under-officers their swords and knap- 
sacks. This was granted, and General St. Clair and Captain 
von Biesenrodt shook hands over the agreement. Lieutenant 
Wiederhold, evidently in a doubting mood, asked if this pro- 
mise would be carried out strictly, and again General St. 
Clair stated it emphatically. The order was then given by 
Captain von Biesenrodt to march up on the high ground to 
the right, and there to surrender. For an hour the promise 
given by General St. Clair was kept, but after that the offi- 
cers were compelled to give up their swords, and the ser- 
geants their swords and knapsacks. The next day, however, 
all the officers were given back their swords by General 
Washington's order. As the Hessian regiment threw down 



their firelocks, the patriot troops tossed their hats in the air, 
and a great shout resounded through the village, as the sur- 
render was made, and the battle of Trenton closed. 

General St. Clair immediately sent Major Wilkinson to 
report the capture of the 
von Knyphausen regiment 
to General Sullivan, and 
that officer directed him to 
inform the commander-in- 
chief. He came up to Gen- 
eral Washington as the lat- 
ter was riding down King 
street, and Colonel Rail 
was being carried into his 
quarters. With some nat- 
ural elation General Wash- 
ington pressed the hand of 
the boyish soldier, and said, 
" This is a glorious day for 
our country. Major Wilkin- 
son." And truly it was a 
toward retrieving the ill-fortune had been made, in a few mo- 
ments a series of disasters had been changed to a glorious 
victory, and the declaration of independence had been shown 
to be a reality by the most brilliant action of the war. 

General Sullivan and General Lord Stirling, who but a 
few months before had become the prisoners of these same 
Hessian troops, now had the satisfaction of capturing the 
very soldiers who had taken them at the battle of Long 

All this time the snow and rain was beating on the two 
armies, but especially in the faces of the Hessians. During 
their march from McKonkey's Ferry the Americans had 
covered the firing-pans of their guns with some part of their 
clothing, or kept them dry under their blankets. They were 
therefore enabled to do effective work, whereas the Hessian 
guns could not be discharged. Many of the Americans 


glorious day. The first step 


were expert I'iflenien, and tlie)' had concealed themselves in 
the honses, where their fii'earnis were preserved from the 
wet weather ; and thus, somewhat screened from the fire of 
the If essians, the}' had from the windows been able to inflict 
considerable damau:e on the eneni)'. 

So many Hessian officers had been killed (jr wounded that 
the urbanizations had become great])' disarranged, and it was 
liai'd for thrise who remahiecl to keep the men in the ranks 
in an\' kind of military oi'der or discipline. 

It woidd seem that the Americans exaffo-crated their force 


when they stated its numbers. Lieutenant-Colonel Schef- 
fer testified that they told him that General Washington 
had with him six general officers and Sooo men, with four- 
teen six-pounders and two howitzers. This was correct 
if the statement was meant to include his whole army on 
both sides of the Delaware Ri\'er, but of course it is well 


known that he did not bring 8000 men with him in the 
attack which he made on Trenton. 

Opinions differ as to the length of time taken for this 
battle. In examining the German accounts of the sur- 
prise, we find that Captain Steding and Lieutenant Schwabe 
both thought that the attack had lasted one and k half 
hours, Ensign Hendorff estimated the time as one and 
three quarter hours, and Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer, Major 
von Hanstein, Captain von Altenbockum and Ensign von 
Hobe were of the opinion that it lasted two hours. Cap- 
tain von Altenbockum and Ensign Hendorff added to this 
statement that the actual battle was from one half to three 
quarters of an hour. We must then infer that from the 
time when the picket on the Pennington road was attacked 
to the time of the ceremony incident to the surrender of 
the von Knyphausen regiment was between one and a half 
and two hours. Lieutenant Piel, who, it will be remem- 
bered, had been awake since five o'clock, said that it was 
shortly after half past seven when the picket was fired on. 
Lieutenant Miiller stated that it was between seven and 
eight o'clock, and the opinion of Lieutenant Sobbe was that 
it was eight o'clock. We must also infer that the actual 
fighting, from the time the batteries opened at the head of 
King and Queen streets, until General St. Clair's men had 
fired their last shots at the Hessian skirmishers, was only 
from thirty to forty-five minutes. 

The Hessian soldiers did all that surprised and bewildered 
men could do. Their irregular defense was entirely futile, 
when opposed by the irresistible dash and impetuosity of the 
patriot columns. General Washington says, "They did not 
make any regular stand ; " and it is owing to the feeble show 
of resistance and to the desperate charge of the Americans 
that so few lives were lost in the engagement. 

On account of the inability of Brigadier-General E wing's 
division to cross the river at Trenton Ferry, a number of the 
soldiers of Rail's brigade escaped and either joined Colonel 
von Donop's command at Bordentown, or passed to the east 


of the village of Trenton, and took the Quaker road, finally- 
reporting to General Leslie at Princeton.^ 

After one of the battalions of the Rail regiment had be- 
come demoralized, many of the men had sought safety in 
flight down Queen street, while some ran down King street 
and through Pinkerton's alley to Queen street, and some of 
the other battalion of the Rail regiment pushed down King 
street and through Front street ahead of the American col- 
umn, and escaped over the Assunpink bridge. A few, a very 
few, regaining courage, joined the von Knyphausen regiment. 
Ensign Ludwig Klnen of the Rail regiment, a brother of 
Lieutenant Ki'nen of the same organization, arrived in Tren- 
ton with his company December 12, but had been too sick 
to go on daily duty. A few days before the battle Colonel 
Rail had sent him to Bordentown with some baggage, so he 
was not made a prisoner, and may fairly be numbered among 
those who were not captured.^ 

In reference to the von Knyphausen regiment, it may be 
noted that Captain Baum, Captain von Schimmelpfennig 
and Lieutenant Vaupell, with about fifty of the men of their 
regiment, marched toward the drawbridge at Crosswicks 
Creek as soon as they had forded the Assunpink Creek; but 
hearing the yagers firing off their guns to see if they were 
in order, and fearing that it was the Americans pursuing 
them, they turned into the woods on the east, and for some 
time were unable to find their way. At last, however, they 

1 Mr. Bancroft, in his History of the United States, says that the 
number was one hundred and si.xty-two (162) men; Von Eelking, in his 
German Auxiliaries in the American War for Independence, ijjd to 
1783, makes the number three hundred and ninety-eight (398) men ; and 
Quartermaster Heusser of the von Lossberg regiment writes that it was 
five (5) officers and one hundred and fifty (150) privates. The resuh 
of my researches indicates that the number was thirteen (13) ofiicers 
and three liundred and ninety-nine (399) enUsted men, in all four hun- 
dred and twelve (412) soldiers. This number includes, of course, all the 
men of Rail's brigade who were on duty at the two detachments on 
picket duty south of the Assunpink Creek, whereas two of the estimates 
above quoted undoubtedly do not include these outlying picket posts. 

^ For names of those who escaped capture see Part ii. No. 56. 


struck the Quaker road, and reached Princeton at about 
eight o'clock at night. When he ai-rived there, Captain 
Schimmelpfennig was very ill and was taken to the hos- 
pital. The weary fugitives told General Leslie the story of 
the fight, which was the first news he had received of this 
blow to the British cause. The enhsted men were retained 
there ; but General Leslie sent Captain Baum with two dra- 
goons to General Grant at Brunswick to inform him of the 
details of the disaster, and General Grant passed him on to 
General Erskine at Amboy, from which place he was dis- 
patched with the news of the surrender to General Howe 
at New York city. In the early part of the fight Field 
Preacher Wilhelm Bauer of the von Knyphausen regiment 
carefully and with great prudence passed over the bridge 
and hurried down the old road to Bordentown. Lieutenant 
von Geyso of the von Knyphausen regiment, who had forded 
the creek, safely reached Bordentown, and' reported the facts 
of the surprise to Lieutenant-Colonel von Minnigerode. 

At the yager picket post of one officer and fifty men at 
General Dickinson's house on the River road, all escaped 
save one, who was captured. Lieutenant Friedrich Wilhelm 
von Grothausen was severely censured for running away 
without making much of a fight, but only a week later he 
met his fate not far from the bridge over which he and his 
men had escaped during the surprise at Trenton. 

The twenty British dragoons, a detachment of the Six- 
teenth regiment of the Queen's light dragoons, did not 
tarry in the town long after the engagement opened. In no 
pubhshed history of the fight and in no manuscript records 
can the slightest mention be found of any effort of these 
men to repel the hostile army. 

The guard at the Assunpink bridge, nineteen soldiers, 
after doing their duty for a short time, though without firing 
a shot, left their post and joined the fugitives. One soldier, 
however, who was posted in front of Major von Dechow's 
quarters was killed. Sergeant Mueller says that before they 
left, the light horse, the artillerymen, the yagers, whom the 


sergeant upbraided for running too fast, some of the musi- 
cians, the surgeons, and some of the women had passed over 
the bridge in the order named. Then, he says, he retired. 

The picket at Trenton Landing — one officer, and twenty- 
seven men — after enduring a vigorous sheUing from the 
Pennsylvania shore, one of their number being wounded, and 
having learned also of the capture of their comrades in the 
town, moved off on the main road to Bordentown just as 
twelve boat-loads, so the German records say, of American 
soldiers reached the Jersey shore at the landing, and began 
to form back of the "Doctor House." This picket reported 
at the drawbridge to Captain Boking of the Rail regiment. 

The picket at the drawbridge over Crosswicks Creek of 
course took no part in the engagement, and escaped capture. 
They were accordingly not counted by Mr. Bancroft in his 
statement, nor were they included in that of Quartermaster 
Heusser ; but belonging as they did to the Rail brigade, they 
should be added to the number of those who were not taken 
prisoners of war. As already stated, the picket was com- 
posed of four officers and eighty-two men. Lieutenant von 
Romrodt and his men, who were stationed half way between 
Trenton and the drawbridge over Crosswicks Creek, heard 
the firing incident to the battle. The firing of the cannon 
could not, however, be heard at the drawbridge, as Lieuten- 
ant Hille of the von Lossberg regiment averred, because of 
the wind being in the opposite direction. They received 
the news about ten o'clock from fugitives who came there, 
some with arms, but most of them without their guns. As 
soon as the report of the disaster reached him, the com- 
mandant at this picket post sent the news to Lieutenant- 
Colonel von Minnigerode, who commanded at Bordentown. 
He instantly dispatched to the aid of the picket a grenadier 
company, commanded by Captain Wilmowsky, and in a few 
minutes the whole of the von Minnigerode battalion followed. 
They remained at the drawbridge about two hours, and then 
the entire force received orders from Colonel von Donop to 
march to Bordentown for the night. 



Some historians, referring to this time, make the state- 
ment that after the attack had commenced an attemjit was 
made by some of tlie German soldiers to harness up Irorses 
for the purpose of carrying off their ill-gotten spoils. There 
is no doubt that the Hessian soldiery at Trenton, foremost 
in rapine and plunder as they had been on their march 
through New Jersey, were well supplied with articles which 
the)- did not care to lea\'e in the hands of the Americans. 
Howe\'er, they did not go over the bridge with any loaded 
wagons, if we are to believe the German records, which give 
with great precision the kind and condition of men wlio 

\V.-\.Sl-il.\ini IN .\N[J GREtNfc. L.ALLIN 

.N1-:L K.ALi 

escaped. In 1780 Joseph Galloway, the loyalist, in his " Let- 
ters Written to a Nobleman on the Conduct of the War in 
the Middle Colonies," says : " It is a fact, that Colonel Raille, 
although he had sufficient notice of the enem}-'s approach, 
could not form his men, who, more attentive to the safety of 
their plunder than their duty, and engaged in putting horses 


to and loading their waggons, became deaf to all orders. In 
this state they were surrounded and taken." 

The Hessian commander was grievously wounded. Poor 
Rail, the brave and dashing colonel, given to military display, 
fond of the parade, proud of his well-drilled and disciplined 
soldiers as they marched daily on the streets of Trenton, — 
this courageous officer had now to die. Death alone could 
rid him of the heavy responsibility and the measure of dis- 
grace which rested on him. Soon after the surrender he 
was placed on a bench in the Methodist Church on Queen 
street, and carried through Church alley to his own head- 
quarters on King street. The house of Stacy Potts had 
been in the thickest of the battle, and showed the effects of 
shell and of bullet. A pane of glass through which a bullet 
passed remains to this day a relic of the fight. In disrobing 
the wounded commander, the note of Wall, the Bucks County 
Tory, came to light, and Rail, when he understood its con- 
tents, simply remarked, "Hatte ich dies zu Herrn Hunt gele- 
sen, so ware ich jezt nicht hier." ("If I had read this at 
Mr. Hunt's I would not be here.") 

During the morning General Washington and General 
Greene called at the house of Mr. Potts, and with the aid of 
an interpreter held a brief conversation with Colonel Rail, 
and took his parole of honor.^ Rail begged General Wash- 
ington for kind treatment to his men, and his petition was 
readily granted. General Washington also spoke a few 
words of consolation to the dying soldier. Colonel Rail 
lingered in pain during the night, and died on the evening 
of December 27. The German documents say that he was 
buried in the Presbyterian churchyard on Second street (now 
State street), but his is now an unknown grave. It must 
have been in ground since covered by the present church 
edifice. When, in 1838, the excavation was made for the 
foundation of the church, a large number of buttons from 

^ A large painting of this scene was executed many years ago, and is 
now in possession of one of the descendants of Stacy Potts, Joseph P. 
Lloyd, Esq., of Orange, New Jersey. 


Hessian uniforms were found. Lieutenant Kitnen of Rail's 
regiment wrote this epitaph, which was never placed above 
him: "Hier liegt der Oberst Rail, mit ihm ist alles all!" 
(" Here lies Colonel Rail, with him all is over ! ") 


The loss of the American army in this affair was very 
small, being, as General Washington reported, two officers 
and two privates wounded. The officers referred to were 
Captain William Washington and Lieutenant James Monroe, 
who were injured in the charge on the enemy's guns on 
King street, and one of the privates wounded was young 
Robert James Livingston, of the Hunterdon County militia, 
afterward an ensign in the Fifth Virginia regiment, and 
who had matriculated at Princeton College and joined the 
force as a volunteer. On being wounded, he was cared 
for by Miss Rebecca Coxe, who lived opposite the English 
Church on King street. Some histories tell us that, in addi- 
tion to these four wounded soldiers, two officers were killed 
and two frozen to death. This statement cannot now be 
officially confirmed. 

It will always seem strange to the student of this battle 
that no greater damage was inflicted on the Americans by 
these German veterans, while the Hessian troops suffered 
so severely in proportion to their numbers and the short 
duration of the fight. As we look at the facts to-day, it 
seems remarkable ; but the German records give us the 
Hessian loss, and General Washington reported the casualties 
of his patriot band. We can only attempt to account for it 
by the fact that the Germans made no real stand, that a 
number of their guns failed, and that the surprise was so 
sudden and the onset so persistently followed up that they 
could not make their fire effective. Even with this endeavor 
to explain the situation, we still wonder at the difference 
between the casualty lists. 

The Rail regiment had on duty with the brigade 1 1 offi- 
cers and 512 men. Eighty-seven of these men were either 


on guard or on picket that day. Those actually in the fight 
during the few moments before the surrender were Major 
Matthaus, Captain Brubach, Lieutenant Salzmann, Ensign 
Fleck and Ensign Schroeder, — 5 oificers and 425 enlisted 

The von Lossberg regiment had 16 officers and 467 en- 
listed men in service at the beginning of the fight. 

The von Knyphausen regiment began the battle with 
12 officers and 429 men on duty with the command. 

Counting Colonel Rail as killed, the Rail regiment had i 
officer and 12 men killed, and i officer and 10 men wounded; 
the von Lossberg regiment had 3 officers and 4 men killed, 
and 4 officers and 5 5 men wounded ; the von Knyphausen 
regiment, counting Major von Dechow as killed, had i officer 
and I man killed, i officer and 1 3 men wounded. The artil- 
lery detachment had 8 men wounded ; but as these were 
assigned for duty with the artillery detachments and really 
belonged to the_ infantry regiments, they are included in the 
losses previously given. 

The casualties in the brigade were therefore 5 officers 
killed and 6 officers wounded, 17 men killed and 78 men 
wounded, a total of 106 killed and wounded, as appears by 
the official records. Twenty-four of these soldiers — and 
some of the severely wounded must, of course, have died 
very soon — were all buried, so tradition tells us, in one 
place in the Presbyterian churchyard. If this is correct, 
their common grave must have been in ground now covered 
by the First Presbyterian Church. 

In reference to the number of prisoners taken at Trenton 
by the American army, the return of Sir George Osborn, 
muster-master-general of the British army, states that the 
loss was 700. This number is manifestly incorrect. 

General Howe made a return to the British government 
of the loss at Trenton, including killed, wounded and pris- 
oners, as I colonel, 2 lieutenant-colonels, 3 majors, 4 captains, 
8 lieutenants, 12 ensigns, 2 surgeons, 92 sergeants, 20 drum- 
mers, 9 musicians, 25 officers' servants, 740 rank and file. 
Total, 918. 


General Washington made a return to the Continental 
Congress, and appended it to his report of the battle, written 
December 27, 1776. There is no doubt that General Howe 
copied the statement of casualties in his report to the king 
from that of General Washington,^ as the figures exactly 

The official list of prisoners as made out by the command- 
ing officers of the three Hessian regiments and the lieutenant 
of artillery on the 5th day of January, 1777, while the officers 
were still in Philadelphia, shows a total force of 868 officers 
and men. 2 

Taking the total number of officers and men killed, 
wounded and captured to have been 918 soldiers, as it was 
given by General Washington and appropriated by General 
Howe, and comparing this statement with the number of 
prisoners which the Hessian officers themselves acknow- 
ledged had been captured, that is 868 soldiers, we find that 
22 were killed, 28 of the wounded were left on parole in 
Trenton, and that of the 868 prisoners of war who were 
taken over the Delaware River on December 26, 56 had in 
some way been wounded.^ 

We are given a fair idea of the kind of men in the rank 
and file of the prisoners by their several trades. We find 
among them 82 weavers, 49 tailors, 38 shoemakers, 16 
smiths, 15 carpenters, 15 wagon-makers, 12 masons, 10 join- 
ers, 9 butchers, 7 plasterers, 7 stocking-weavers, 6 bakers, 6 
millers, etc. This list was prepared in Lancaster, Pennsyl- 
vania, January 10, 1777, and contains the occupations of 315 
of the 830 soldiers in that city at that date. 

Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rail was born in June, 1725, and 
when quite a young man entered on the study of a military 
life. During the Seven Years' War he gained considerable 
experience in his profession under the Duke of Brunswick, 

' For Washington's return see Part ii. No. 57. 
^ For these statements see Part ii. No. 58. 

' For roster of ofificers of Rail's brigade, with biographical sketches, 
see Part ii. No. 59. 



and he served for glory as a \'olunteer under Orloff against 
the Turks. In 1764 he is recorded in the Hessian State 
and Court Calendar as lieutenant-colonel in the garrison regi- 
ment Stein. In the following year, and until the year 1771, 
he held the same position in the garrison regiment Held- 
ring. In 1772 the name of the grenadier regiment Muller 
was changed to the grenadier regiment Rail, and he was 


appointed its colonel and commandant. As such he landed 
in America, at New Utrecht, Long Island, August 25, 1776, 
with Lieutenant-General de Heister's first division of Hes- 
sian troops. Two days afterward he took part in the battle 
of Long Island. He fought well at Fort Washington 
November 16, 1776, and was then placed in charge of 


the brigade which was afterward assigned to the post at 

The character of Colonel Rail has been variously and 
often erroneously described by historical writers. Prefer- 
ring the delineations of his traits made by German critics, 
and especially by the late Dr. Friedrich Kapp, the learned 
and accomplished biographer of General De Kalb and 
General Steuben, we must speak of the Hessian colonel as 
liberal, hospitable and generous. As commander of a bat- 
talion he displayed undoubted courage, and he performed 
acts of great bravery at Long Island, White Plains and Fort 
Washington. As a soldier he was terribly in earnest, and 
few officers displayed greater military skill in battle. He 
always personally sought the most perilous post in the mo- 
ment of attack. His British comrades admired him greatly 
and called him the " Hessian lion." To the Americans he 
was terror personified. Yet with all these commendable 
characteri|fetics he lacked a cool temper, sound judgment and 
a habit of quick resolve. His deficiency in these respects, 
while it n)ight not deter him from properly executing orders 
given him, certainly rendered him unfit for holding a "general 
officer's cpmmand. Always successful heretofore in every 
trust confided to him, despising as he did the American 
force and Underestimating its valor, he neglected the sim- 
plest precautions to prevent surprise. 

Captain Friedrich Ernst von Miinchhausen, General 
Howe's adjutant, says of Colonel Rail that if he had not lost 
his life in this battle he would certainly have lost his head. 

Lieutenant Andreas Wiederhold, a rather self-sufiScient 
ofificer who had commanded the Pennington road picket on 
that eventful morning, gives in his journal a severe and per- 
haps unjust and prejudiced account of the man : — 

" He (Rail himself) believed the name of Rail more perfect 
and redoubtable than all the works of Vauban and Cohorn, 
and that no rebel would dare to encounter it. A fit man 
truly to command a corps ! and still more to defend a 
place lying so near an enemy having a hundred times his 


advantages. Everything with him was done heedlessly 
and without forecast." . . . "There was more bustle than 
business at the post. The men were harassed with watches, 
detachments and pickets without purpose and without end. 
The cannon must be drawn forth every day from their 
proper places and paraded about the town seemingly only to 
make a stir and uproar." . . . "Whether his men when off 
duty were well or ill clad, whether they kept their muskets 
clean and bright and their ammunition in good order was 
of little moment to the colonel, he never inquired about 
it ; but the music ! that was the thing ! the hautboys — he 
never could have enough of them. The watch-guard was 
at no great distance from his quarters and the music could 
not linger there long enough. There was a church close 
by surrounded with a picket fence and a gate in front ! 
The officer on guard must march round and round it, with 
his men and musicians, looking like a Roman Catholic pro- 
cession, wanting only the cross and the banner and chant- 
ing choristers to lead. He followed the parade every time 
on releasing the guards in order to hear the music. The 
guards were released at two o'clock and the pickets at four 
o'clock. All officers and non-commissioned officers had to 
be on duty at that time so as to make a grand headquarters. 
The cannon instead of being out at the head of the streets 
where they could be of use, were in front of his quarters 
and two of them had to be paraded to the lower part of the 
town every morning and back again so as to make all the 
display possible. He gave himself all the pleasure he could 
up to a late hour at night, and then going to bed slept until 
nine o'clock in the morning. When we came at ten o'clock 
for parade to his quarters we had many times to wait a half 
hour, because he had not finished his usual bath." 

In his interesting journal Quartermaster Heusser of the 
von Lossberg regiment makes these remarks on the char- 
acter of Colonel Rail and his conduct in the fight : — 

" Our commander was too proud to retreat a step before 
such an enemy as the Americans. He did not suppose the 


rebels would wager a battle with him. If General Howe 
had judged him accurately he would never have trusted him 
with such an important post. He was a born soldier but 
never a commanding general. Although he had deservedly 
won the greatest honor at Fort Washington, where he fol- 
lowed the orders of a great general, he lost all his praise and 
all his glory at Trenton, where he was in command himself. 
He had the necessary courage to attempt the most daring 
acts, but he lacked the cool presence of mind absolutely 
essential in the event of a surprise. He was full of activity 
and very lively in his nature, one thought quickly crowded 
out another and he did not come to any fixed resolve. He 
was to be esteemed as a generous and a hospitable man, 
polite to every one, kind to his subordinates and to his ser- 
vants. Devotedly fond of music, he was agreeable in all 
social gatherings." 

In a statement dated at Homberg, in Hesse, September 
1 6, 1787, General von Heister's son. Cornet Carl Levin von 
Heister, attached to the Hesse-Cassel body dragoon regi- 
ment, and at the time of the battle acting as adjutant to 
Colonel von Donop, speaks of Colonel Rail as "A very brave 
man, who had shown his spirit and courage on every occa- 
sion where he had been directed to attack an enemy. His 
experiences in German wars, his life in Turkey, where he 
went as a volunteer in the Russian army, did not fit him in 
any way to defend a post. His success at White Plains and 
at Fort Knyphausen made him proud, and he thought his 
name and the name of his brigade would serve as a strong 
protection of the post at Trenton. He never thought the 
rebels would dare to attack him, and this made him careless 
in preparations for defense." 

The only Hessian writer who fails to blame Colonel Rail 
is Captain Johann Ewald of the corps of yagers. He 
throws the responsibility on his own chief, Colonel von 
Donop : " He was not able to tell a sham attack from a real 
one and foolishly took his force out of supporting distance 
of Rail's command. As Colonel Rail lost his life in the 


fight, and was therefore unable to defend himself in person, 
the blame will forever rest on him. His memory has been 
cursed by German and English soldiers, many of whom 
were not fit to carry his sword." Captain Ewald concedes 
that perhaps Colonel Rail did wrong in allowing the enemy 
to get so near to him, and that the oi^cers at the picket 
post should have been alert enough to have discovered the 
Americans in time. " If," he continues, " Colonel Rail had 
not been wounded, his three regiments of brave men would 
have disputed every foot of the land, but when he was shot 
there was not an officer who had the courage to take up the 
half-lost battle." 

At the time of the surrender many of the Hessians hid in 
the houses of their Tory friends, but most of them were 
finally secured and carried off as prisoners of war. In this 
way the number of men captured was increased. On De- 
cember 29 General Washington reported a few more pris- 
oners, among them a lieutenant-colonel and a deputy adju- 
tant-general, — no doubt included in the lists heretofore 
given, — and he stated that the prisoners now numbered 
about 1000. 

In addition to capturing some of the best troops of the 
Hessian mercenaries, the American troops took six double 
fortified brass three-pounders, three ammunition wagons, 
four wagons full of baggage, 40 horses, about 1000 arms 
and accoutrements, 12 drums and 15 army colors. Two of 
these cannon were used by the Americans at the battle of 
Brandywine, September 11, 1777, where they were captured 
by the British forces. 

On page 28 of the second volume of Max von Eelking's 
work, " The German Allies in the American Revolutionary 
War," Hanover, 1863, the statement is made, referring to 
the battle of Stono Ferry, South Carolina, June 20, 1779, 
that "the guns and flags taken from the Hessians at Tren- 
ton were recovered at that place." This is given on the 
authority of a manuscript diary of non-commissioned officer 
Reuber of the Rail regiment. In a footnote von Eelking 


says that Reuber twice mentions this fact, and he adds that 
the guns were immediately turned over to the regiment von 
Trumbach, but the flags were retained until the Hessian 
troops returned to Cassel. Von Eelking also adds that 
there is no explanation as to how the guns were placed on 
the vessel, probably meaning the Rattlesnake, an American 
man-of-war which had been disabled by the guns attached 
to the regiment von Wissenback and the fire of the Six- 
teenth regiment of British grenadiers. He speaks of this 
action as a "rare capture." 

The accuracy of this statement is somewhat doubtful. As 
has been noted, two of the cannon were retaken at Brandy- 
wine, and there is only a possibility that the remaining four 
may have been placed on the man-of-war captured in the 
South Carolina waters. It is not to be supposed for one 
moment that the Hessian standards also were taken to 
South Carolina, for what object would have been gained by 
such a disposition of them .'' One standard, if not all, cer- 
tainly passed into the possession of the Continental Congress, 
and that one was burned in the fire in the museum at Alex- 
andria, Virginia. 

In the letter of William Ellery, delegate in Congress from 
Rhode Island, dated Baltimore, December 31, 1776, and 
written to Governor Nicholas Cooke of that State, we find a 
description of one of the Hessian silken standards which 
had just been hung in the room where Congress was in 
session. 1 

1 " In the centre of a green field of about four or five feet is a decorated 
gilded circle, which incloses a lion rampant, with a dagger in his right 
paw and this motto in the upper part of it, Nescit Pericula ; the crest 
is a crown, with a globe and cross upon it ; in the corner are gilded 
decorated circles and globes and crosses on their tops and in the middle 
F. S. in cyphers ; a broad blaze extends from the corners to the piece 
in the centre and three small blazes are placed in the field, one in the 
middle of the side next the staff, one in the opposite side and one in 
the middle on the lower side or bottom." 

The motto here given, Nescit Pericula, a contempt of danger, was 
certainly ill-suited to the retreating and vanquished Hessians, and it 



It may be of interest to add an extract from the history 
of the fusilier regiment von Lossberg, as taken from the 
records of Hesse-Cassel, which refers to the capture of Tren- 
ton. As Lieutenant Piel, the brigade adjutant, uses simi- 
lar language in his diary now on file in the same office of 
records, it is quite probable that he wrote the report of the 


fight for Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer, the senior officer sur- 
viving. It is scarcely necessary to draw special attention 
to its greatly exaggerated statement of General Washing- 
brought forth this amusing doggerel in one of the papers of the day, 

X!a& Freeman's Journal oi February 11, 1777: — 
" The man who submits without striking a blow, 
May be said, in a sense, no danger to know, 
I pray then what harm, by the humble submission 
At Trenton was done to the standard of Hessian ? " 

Another of the standards taken was the beautiful flag of the von 
Lossberg regiment. It was of white silk and about four feet square, 
the embroidery and letters being worked in gold silk. On one side was 
a crown, a monogram E C T S A and the letters M L B 'i 775, and on 
the other side an eagle with an olive branch, and the motto, scarcely 
less inappropriate than the other. Pro principe et patria — for prince 
and country. 

It will be noticed that some of the returns report three colors as 
captured, others four standards, and still others fifteen colors. It is 
difficult to reconcile these statements. We can only infer that in the 
first-named return rnention is made simply of the three regimental 
flags, in the second the artillery flag is added, and in the third report 
the little company guidons are also included in the number. 


ton's force. All Hessian accounts seem to make the Amer- 
ican attacking party at least 7000 men. This is the number 
stated in the German biography of General von Ochs. 

" On December 24, 1776, Rail's brigade occupied the 
town of Trenton on the Delaware River. The enemy was 
on the other side of this river and as he had boats and we 
had not, they could cross and disturb us at every hour. On 
the evening of the 25th, at dark, they attacked our outposts, 
but retired at once having wounded six of our men. On the 
morning of the 26th between seven and eight o'clock, we 
were regularly attacked by a corps of six to seven thousand 
men under General Washington. Our outposts were soon 
forced to retire, and we had scarcely time to take up arms, 
while we lost many men in consequence of the fire of small 
arms and cannon in the town. We were surrounded from 
all sides, but we defended ourselves for fully two hours until 
the regiment von Knyphausen was cut off from us. Our 
muskets could not fire any more on account of the rain and 
snow, and the rebels fired on us from within the houses. 
Nothing therefore was left to us but to surrender as pris- 
oners of war. The regiment von Lossberg lost in this affair 
seventy men killed and wounded. Among the first were 
Captains von Riess and von Benning and Lieutenant Kimm, 
while Captain von Altenbockum and Lieutenants Schwabe 
and Zoll were among the wounded. Our whole disaster 
was entirely due to Colonel Rail. He did not think it pos- 
sible that the rebels would ever dare to attack us, and thus 
he neglected all preparations against any attack. I must 
confess that we thought too slightly of the rebels, who thus 
far had never been able to resist us. Our Brigadier was too 
proud to withdraw one inch before such an enemy, otherwise 
we would have had no other remedy left to us but,a retreat. 
Colonel Rail was mortally wounded and died the next even- 
ing, happy that he was not bound to survive his honor. 
If General Howe had judged this officer correctly he would 
hardly have trusted him with so important a post as that of 
Trenton. Colonel Rail was a good soldier but a bad Gen- 


eral. This officer, who at the capture of Fort Washington 
had won the highest honor because he fought under a good 
General, lost all his reputation at Trenton where he himself 
was general. He had great courage and undertook the most 
daring enterprises but he lacked the cool presence of mind 









W'^ /' '"■ 








l W 





- ^^~^B 


I^HhB^^^^ "''^ 




m \m 


, - 



/ -- 













- ' "^P 






^^^^■j sSt' 





>lom:l hiii\kv k>^ox 

which on such occasions as the attack at Trenton are 
wanted. His vivacity was too great. One idea supplanted 
another in his mind and therefore he was unable to arrive at 
a fixed determination. As a private gentleman he deserves 
the highest respect. He was generous, liberal and hospita- 
ble towards all, dignified with his superiors, but kind to his 
inferiors. To his servants he was more a friend than a 


master. He was exceedingly fond of music and a very 
agreeable companion." 

It may be mentioned here in reference to the conduct 
of the American troops in the battle, as stated in a letter 
written by Captain William Hull of the Seventh Connecticut 
Continental regiment, that " General Washington highly 
congratulated the men the next day in General Or,ders, & 
with pleasure observed that he had been in many actions 
before, but always perceived some misbehaviour in some 
individuals, but in that action he saw none." 

As the British were in strength at Princeton and at Bor- 
dentown, it was deemed prudent that the Americans should 
return to their former posts on the west bank of the Dela- 
ware River. This course was agreed upon at a council of 
officers, though General Greene and Colonel Knox dissented 
and urged a following up the surprise by a rapid pursuit of 
the foe. It was thought, however, that the prisoners, artil- 
lery, horses, stores, arms and ammunition which had been 
captured would be much safer on the other side of the river 
and the officers generally did not care to risk the posses- 
sion of the trophies of their victory. 

In a fragmentary narrative of the movements of the 
American army at this time. Colonel Joseph Reed, General 
Washington's adjutant-general, notes the following as the 
reasons assigned by some of the general officers as to why 
they should and why they should not recross the Delaware 
River with the fruits of their successful expedition. 

" I. That the Enemy was in force both above & below, 
viz. at Princeton & Bordentown — for at that Time it was 
not known, that a great Part of the Enemy's Force was 
gone down to Mount Hollow 25 Miles below Trenton. 

" 2. There were great Quantities of Spirituous Liquours 
at Trenton of which the Soldiers drank too freely to admit 
of Discipline or Defence in Case of Attack. 

" 3. The Stroke being brilliant & successful it was not 
prudent or politick even to risque the Chance of losing the 
Advantages to be derived from it. 


" On the Other Hand it was argued that Successes & bril- 
liant strokes ought to be pursued — that History shewed 
how much depended upon improving such Advantages — & 
that a Pannick being once given no one could ascertain the 
beneficial Consequences which might be derived from it if it 
was push'd to all its Consequences. However the former 
Opinion prevailed." 

Accordingly after paroling all the wounded Hessians, 
whom they were obliged to leave in the village, and having 
rested and refreshed themselves, the victorious army took 
up their line of march soon after midday and journeyed for 
nine miles back over the old River road to the place where 
their boats still remained under guard. A few of the offi- 
cers and men were carried over the Trenton Ferry, Beatty's 
Ferry and Johnson's Ferry, but most of the army returned 
to Pennsylvania by McKonkey's Ferry. 

General Lord Stirling was ordered with his brigade to 
guard the prisoners and secure their safety. The disagree- 
able weather of the previous night still continued ; but few 
complaints were heard from the victors, who had borne the 
beating storm of hail and rain for fully twenty-four hours. 
Far worse were the feelings of the sad and dismayed Hes- 
sians as they commenced their weary march from the plea- 
sant village and its holiday revels, going as captives on their 
cheerless journey along the slippery roadway. 

When the column arrived at the ferry landing, the pris- 
oners were taken over first, with only a sufficient guard, and 
on the Pennsylvania shore they awaited the arrival of the 
American army. The crossing was difficult and danger- 
ous. It is noted that one boat filled with German officers 
came near being swamped by the icy current, and after 
, drifting down the stream for nearly two miles, the offi- 
cers at last jumped into the river and waded about two 
hundred feet through the angry waters, and so reached the 

Tradition says that three soldiers were frozen during this 
passage over the river, a fact not surprising when we remem- 


ber the scanty condition of their clothing. Captain Morris's 
troop of Philadelphia light horse remained on the New Jersey 
side, patrolling the roads until after dark, when they crossed 
the river, and at daylight on the next morning reported at 
headquarters. The whole detachment of infantry and artil- 
lery, many of them having marched fully thirty miles, had 
now returned to their former camps, barracks and quarters. 
It is said that the next day more than looo men were 
reported unfit for duty. 

Captain William Hull, at the time of the battle acting as 
a field officer of Colonel Webb's Seventh Connecticut Conti- 
nental regiment, says in his account of his revolutionary ser- 
vices that on returning to his quarters he had a large dish 
of hasty pudding prepared for him, and that while eating it 
he fell from the chair with weariness, and awoke in the morn- 
ing with the spoon still in his hand. 

The headquarters of the army was now established in 
John Harris's old yellow house, west of Neshaminy Creek, 
near Newtown. This village was five miles west of the 
Delaware River and five miles southwest of McKonkey's 
Ferry, now Taylorsville. Lieutenant-Colonel Robert H. 
Harrison, General Washington's military secretary, had 
remained at Newtown in charge of the records and papers 
of the commander-in-chief. " The old secretary," as he was 
called, was greatly trusted by his chief, and it is said of him 
that he was " one in whom every man had confidence and by 
whom no man was deceived." 

On the night of December 26 the Hessian officers were 
confined in the ferry house at the landing at Johnson's 
Ferry, but the enlisted men were immediately marched to 
Newtown. The officers said they spent the night "very 
miserably without anything to eat or drink," and the next 
day they were taken to the Brick Tavern at Newtown. 
They found then that their men had been confined in the 
Presbyterian Church and the Bucks County jail in that vil- 

On December 28 General Lord Stirling took Lieutenant- 



Colonels Scheffer and Brethauer, Majors Matthaus and \on 
Hanstein, Lieutenant Wiederhold and a few other officers, 
to call on General Washington. The commander-in-chief 
received them kindly and desired the foui- field officers to 



,LM L 



dine with him, which they did. The rest of the part)' dined 
at General Lord Stirling's quarters. It appears that Lord 
Stirling treated all the captured officers with cordiality, as a 
return for courtesies shown him by German officers, and 
especially by General von Heister, when he was a prisoner 
of war after the battle of Long Island. 

While these officers were in General Lord Stirling's quar- 
ters a singular incident occurred, which is gra])hically de- 
scribed in Adjutant Piel's journal. It seems that a tall, 


sour-visaged man, whom they supposed to be the German 
Lutheran pastor of the village, entered the room where they 
were, and, addressing the Hessian officers in their own lan- 
guage, urged upon them the justice of the war from the 
American point of view. He told them that he was a native 
of Hanover, abused the Elector thereof, and denounced 
George HI. At last, disgusted, as they said, with his tittle- 
tattle, they told him that they had not been sent to America 
to find out which party was right, but to fight for the king. 
Lord Stirling soon saw that this discourse was not pleasant 
to the captured officers, and he abruptly interfered and 
stopped the controversy. 

Lieutenant Andreas Wiederhold of the von Knyphausen 
regiment gives us a rather amusing account of his interview 
with General Washington. The presumption of this subal- 
tern officer is decidedly refreshing. He speaks of the 
American chief as a fine, polite man, very reserved, with 
limited conversational powers, of medium size, good figure 
and cunning features. He also said that General Washing- 
ton somewhat resembled one of their own officers. Captain 
Bernhard von Biesenrodt of the von Knyphausen regiment, 
then a prisoner of war. It appears from the young lieu- 
tenant's statement that General Washington praised his 
conduct at the alarm-house, saying that he was glad to meet 
such a brave officer, and took note of his name and rank, 
listening to his criticisms of wherein the Hessian officers 
had acted wisely and wherein they had not, and commenting 
favorably upon Wiederhold's plan as to the way he would 
have fought the battle. It seems highly improbable that 
this conversation, of so personal a character, should have 
taken place in the presence of such experienced officers as 
Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer and Lieutenant-Colonel Bret- 
hauer. During this interview Lieutenant Wiederhold asked 
General Washington's permission to return to Trenton and 
procure some of his uniform and underclothing. This was 
granted, and he gave his parole of honor to return, went to 
Trenton on the afternoon of December 29, and returned the 


next day to Newtown. He was successful in regaining his 
trunk, which was in Major von Dechow's quarters, the house 
in which the major had died. Wiederhold says that the 
good lady of the house had carefully taken care of his cloth- 

As though he were a veteran of European wars, he sums 
up his opinion with the sage reflection that "experience 
has sufficiently demonstrated that where a surprise has really 
taken place the commander must first recover his own equa- 
nimity before he can get his men out of a panic, and that 
after this is done and the soldiers have seen that the danger 
is not as great as it seemed at first, they can soon be used 
as effectively as ever." He concludes with the statement 
that " Colonel Rail's action at the time was more foolhardy 
than brave, and that in such a case confusion ends in weak- 
ness in the moment of surprise. For this reason the three 
battalions were captured, and the soldierly reputation of 
many good names was dishonored." 

The Hessian prisoners at Newtown signed a parole of 
honor, which was in the following words : — 

1 The criticisms of this young soldier on the battle of Trenton, and 
probably the very points which, if we are to believe his statement, he 
presumed to discuss with General Washington, were : — 

'• I. That Colonel Rail cannot be excused for allowing the enemy to 
cross the river so near to his post, in such force, with a river so nearly 
frozen that it took sixteen hours to effect a passage and then to be 
attacked in garrison and this without his certain knowledge, although 
he had been warned several times. 

"2. That Colonel Rail is further inexcusable in that the attack of 
the night before on the picket-guard was notice enough, that he did not 
then send out strong patrols to all the ferries and into all the woods to 
search for the enemy, and that he failed to have the supplies and bag- 
gage of the army in condition to relieve himself quickly of these impedi- 
ments if necessary. 

"3. That he did not have his men all called in and stationed above 
the bridge over the creek in good position to await the movement of 
the enemy. 

"4. That even though he had neglected all these precautions he did 
not concentrate his entire force when the surprise was really made and 
push across the bridge while such a movement was yet possible." 


"We, tlie SubscrilitTS, Hessian Officers, made Prisoners 
of War b)' the American Arm}' under command of his Excel- 
lency, deneral Washington, at Trenton, on the 26th inst., 
Ix-ing allowetl ( )ur Libert)', under such Restrictions as to 
place as nia\' be from time to time a]ipointed, do give Our 
I'ai'ole of IIoiKiur, that we will remain at tlie jjlace and 
within the limits appninted for us b)' his Excellency, the 
General, the Honourable Congress, Council of Safety, or 
Conmiissai'v of Prisoners of War, IV-aceably beha\'ing oiu'- 
sel\"es and b\' no \va)' Send or gi\'e Intelligence to the ]3ritish 
or Hessian i\rni)- or speak oi- do anything disrespectful or 
Injui-iiius to the American States while we remain J'risonei's 
of War, We will also restrain nur Ser\"ants and Attendants 
who are allowed to remain with us, as far as in oiu' power, 
to the same contlitions. Newtown, December 30th 1776." 

_-^" ni^n 

0/"' ' )Jt- lUJi '^'■ 

■fj] "jj- ^.. 5^^. ' '^i :£ 

■a,u , 




-/ </■ 7;;,A 


sk;xatii^i;s mj- hkssian oi-fi' i{ks mx the parole 

General Washington very kindly allowed the prisoners to 
retain all of their jiersonal baggage without examination. 
This undoubtedly produced a good effect. 

Immediately after the parole was given by the Hessian 

"lO TRIUMPHE" 213 

officers, they started for Philadelphia in five canvas-covered 
wagons driven by Pennsylvania farmers, and reached that 
city soon after eleven o'clock in the morning. They were 
all taken to the inn known as the " Indian Queen," and in 
the evening were furnished with " a grand supper, with 
plenty of wine and punch at the expense of Congress." The 
enlisted men also marched from Newtown at an early hour 
on December 30, under a heavy guard commanded by 
Colonel George Weedon of the Third Virginia Continental 
regiment. He had with him as guard his own regiment, a 
detachment of the First Pennsylvania rifle battalion com- 
manded by Captain Lewis Farmer, and another detachment 
commanded by Captain John Murray. The men spent the 
night of December 30 at the village of Four Lands End, 
now called Attleborough. The next morning they passed 
through Frankfort and Kensington, and reached Philadelphia 
just before evening. 

The prisoners, followed by the captured arms and banners, 
were all paraded through the streets of Philadelphia, where 
the whole populace was out to see them. This exhibition of 
triumph was no doubt for the purpose of encouraging the 
people and showing them that the dreaded Hessian could 
be captured by the undisciplined force of America. 

In Watson's "Annals of Philadelphia," an "elderly gentle- 
man " gives an account of this display : — 

" I well remember seeing the Hessian prisoners which had 
been taken at Trenton. I stood on the porch of Pember- 
ton's house in Chestnut above Third street. They marched 
up the street past the State House, where Congress sat. 
They made a long line — all fine, hearty looking men and 
well clad, with large knapsacks, spatterdashes on legs, their 
looks were satisfied. On each side, in a single file, were 
their guards, mostly in light summer dress, and some with- 
out shoes, but stepping light and cheerful." 

In his diary one of the Hessian soldiers also describes the 
scene : — 

" Large and small, old and young stood there seeing what 


kind of people we were. When we came before them they 
gazed very closely at us. The old women screamed fearfully 
and wanted, to choke us because we had come to America 
to deprive them of their liberty. Some however, notwith- 
standing the spite, brought us liquor and bread, but were 
not allowed to let us have them by these old women. The 
American troops who guarded us had orders from Washing- 
ton to march us all over the city, so that all should see us, 
but the people pressed on us so greatly as nearly to break 
the guard over us." 

The effect of this triumphal display upon the citizens of 
Philadelphia was wonderful. Despondency was turned to 
joy; and the rejoicing of the patriots knew no bounds. 

The prisoners were confined in the city barracks, which 
had been prepared for them in compliance with a character- 
istic order of General Putnam : " You are immedatly to 
remove your men out of the Barrok to make room for the 
hashon Prisoners." 

On New Year's day the German officers were taken in a 
body to call on General Putnam, who received them hospit- 
ably. On the 6th day of January they left Philadelphia for 
Baltimore, where Congress was then in session. All the 
captured commissioned officers of Rail's brigade were in this 
party, and about as many non-commissioned officers, in all 
about fifty soldiers. Captain Farmer being still in command 
of the guard. On the evening of January 14 he quartered 
his prisoners in Baltimore, and the next morning turned 
them over to the custody of the Board of War. Congress 
ordered the officers to be taken to Dumfries in Prince William 
County, Virginia, some twenty-five miles below Alexandria, 
and four miles from the mouth of the Quantico River, on 
the lower Potomac River. They left Baltimore January 18, 
under charge of Lieutenant John Lindenburger of the 
Pennsylvania state regiment of artillery, and on January 24 
reached Dumfries, a wooden vUlage of about forty houses. 
There they remained until September 4, 1777, when they 
were sent to Winchester, Virginia, and during the same 


month 300 of the enhsted men of the Hessian contingent 
arrived in the same village to be quartered there. The offi- 
cers were sent on December 13 to Fredericksburg, Virginia, 
and there, from their own account, they had a singularly 
pleasant time for prisoners of war. In the spring of 1778 
those who had been formally exchanged were sent to Phila- 
delphia, then in the hands of the British, arriving there on 
April 20. Two officers, however, were not in the cartel of 
exchange. These were Ensign Carl Wilhelm Kleinschmidt 
of the Rail regiment and Ensign Carl Friedrich Fuhrer of 
the von Knyphausen regiment. Both of these officers joined 
the American army, and the portrait of each one was fixed 
to a gallows as a deserter by the British troops in New York 
city, October i, 1781.^ Ensign Kleinschmidt was the same 
officer who killed his comrade, Captain von der Sippe, in a 
duel on board the vessel which brought them to America. 

The enlisted men were marched from Philadelphia, January 
2, 1777, toward Lancaster, and were afterward scattered in 
different places in the western counties of Pennsylvania and 
in some parts of Virginia. The band of nine musicians which 
had so charmed the dead Colonel Rail were kept in Philadel- 
phia, and it is said that they took part in the fourth of July 
celebration in that city in the year 1777. 

From a sergeant's return of the prisoners at Lancaster, 
printed in the "Pennsylvania Archives," second series, vol. i. 
p. 435, we find 39 men of the artillery, 266 men of the Rail 
regiment, 234 men of the von Lossberg regiment, 291 men 
of the von Knyphausen regiment ; in all 830 men, and a few 
women and children. 

In March, 1777, a selection was made from these prisoners 
of thirty men, who were sent to Mount Hope, Morris County, 
New Jersey, and placed in the service of John Jacob Faesch, 
who owned the great forge and foundry at that place. Mr. 
Faesch was himself a native of Hesse-Cassel, and had come 
to America in the employ of the London Company in 1766. 

1 See von Krafft's "Journal," New Yo^k Historical Society Collec- 
tions, 1882, p. 59. 


In 1776 he was engaged in making cannon and shot for the 
American army under contract with Congress. The govern- 
ment furnished him with arms to guard his countrymen, then 
prisoners of war, and he made them useful in casting cannon- 
balls for the patriots. 

Some of these Hessian prisoners never again took up 
arms against the infant republic. Not a few escaped from 
their captors and settled on the farm lands of Pennsylvania 
and Virginia. These had to be paid for as " missing " by 
the English government. Many of them, pleased with the 
new country, returned to Pennsylvania when the war was 
over, and joined the many large and flourishing settlements 
of Germans in that commonwealth. 


On the day after the battle of Trenton General Washing- 
ton wrote his official report of the surprise at Trenton, and 
sent it to the Continental Congress at Baltimore : — 

Head Quarters, Newtown 
27 December 1776 

I have the pleasure of congratulating you upon the success 
of an enterprise which I had formed against a detachment of 
the enemy lying in Trenton, and which was executed yester- 
day morning. The evening of the 25th I ordered the troops 
intended for this service to parade back of McKonkey's Ferry, 
that they might begin to pass as soon as it grew dark, im- 
agining we should be able to throw them all over, with the 
necessary artillery, by twelve o'clock, and that we might 
easily arrive at Trenton by five in the morning, the distance 
being about nine miles. But the quantity of ice, made that 
night, impeded the passage of the boats so much, that it was 
three o'clock before the artillery could all be got over ; and 
near four before the troops took up their line of march. 
This made me despair of surprising the town, as I well knew 
we could not reach it before the day was fairly broke. But 
as I was certain there was no making a retreat without being 
discovered and harassed on_repj^ssing_the river, I determined 
to push on at all events. | I formed my detachment into two 
"Tlndsions, one to march by the lower or river road the other 
by the upper or Pennington road. As the divisions had 
nearly the same distance to march, L ordered each of them, 
immediately upon forcing the out-guards to push directly 
into the town, that they might charge the enemy before they 
had-limeio form. 

The upper division arrived at the enemy's advanced post 


exactly at eight o'clock ; and in three minutes after, I found, 
from the fire on the lower road, that the division had also 
got up. The out-guards made but small opposition, though, 
for their numbers, they behaved very well, keeping up a con- 
stant retreating fire from behind houses. We presently saw 
their main body formed ; but, from their motions, they seemed 
undetermined how to act. Being hard pressed by our troops, 
who had already got possession of their artillery, they at- 
tempted to file off by a road on their right, leading to Prince- 
ton. But, perceiving their intention, I threw a body of troops 
in their way, which immediately checked them. Finding 
from our disposition, that they were surrounded and that 
they must inevitably be cut to pieces if they made any fur- 
ther resistance, they agreed to lay down their arms. The 
number that submitted in this manner was twenty-three offi- 
cers and eight hundred and eighty-six men. Colonel Rahl, 
the commanding officer, and seven others, were found 
wounded in the town. I do not exactly know how many 
were killed ; but I fancy not above twenty „ox tjiirty, asjhey 
never made any regular stand. Our loss is very trifling 
indeed, — only two officers and one or two privates wounded. 
I find that the detachment of the enemy consisted of the 
three Hessian regiments of Anspach, Kniphausen and Rahl, 
amounting to about fifteen hundred men, and a troop of 
British light-horse ; but, immediately upon the beginning of 
the attack, all those, who were not killed or taken, pushed 
directly down the road towards Bordentown. These would 
likewise have fallen into our hands, could my plan have been 
completely carried into execution. General Ewing was to 
have crossed before day at Trenton Ferry, and taken pos- 
session of the bridge leading out of town ; but the quantity 
of ice was so great, that, though he did every thing in his 
power to effect it, he could not get over. This difficulty 
also hindered General Cadwalader from crossing with the 
Pennsylvania militia from Bristol. He got part of his foot 
over ; but, finding it impossible to embark his artillery, he 
was obliged to desist. I am fully confident, that, could the 


troops under Generals Ewing and Cadwalader have passed 
the river, I should have been able with their assistance to 
drive the enemy from all their posts below Trenton. But 
the numbers I had with me being inferior to theirs below 
me and a strong battalion of light infantry being at Princeton 
above me, I thought it most prudent to return the same 
evening with the prisoners and the artillery we had taken. 
We found no stores of any consequence in the town. 

In justice to the officers and men, I must add, that their 
• behaviour upon this occasion reflects the highest honor upon 
them. The difficulty of passing the river in a very severe 
night, and their march through a violent storm of snow and 
hail, did not in the least abate their ardor ; but, when they 
came to the charge, 'each seemed to vie with the other in 
pressing forward and were I 'to give a preference to any 
particular^corps, I should do great injustice to^the others. 

Colonel Baylor, my first aide-de-camp, will have the honor 
of delivering this to you ; and from him you may be made 
acquainted with many other particulars. His spirited be- 
haviour upon every occasion requires me to recommend him 
to your particular notice. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 

Go. Washington. 

Brigadier-General Lord Stirling also wrote to his brother- 
in-law. Governor William Livingston of New Jersey.^ 

General Howe informed Lord George Germain of the dis- 
aster at Trenton in a letter dated New York, December 29, 
1776, and from which the following extract is taken : — 

My Lord : 

On the 25th instant, in the evening, a party of the enemy 
attacked an out-guard from the post of Trenton, where Colo- 
nel Rail commanded with three battalions of Hessians, fifty 
chasseurs and twenty light dragoons, having with them six 
field-pieces, which party was beaten back. 
1 Part ii. No. 60. 


On the succeeding morning at six o'clock the rebels ap- 
peared in force with cannon, evidently intending to attack 
the post. Colonel Rail, having received intelligence of their 
design, had the troops under arms and detached his own 
regiment to support an advanced picket ; this picket being 
forced, and falling back upon the regiment, threw it into 
some disorder, which occasioned them to retire upon the 
other battalions no advantage being taken of this, they re- 
covered themselves and the whole formed in front of the 
village. The rebels, without advancing, cannonaded them 
in this situation and Colonel Rail moved forward to attack 
them, with the regiments of Lossberg and Rail ; in which 
attack Colonel Rail was wounded and the regiments were 
made prisoners. The rebels then advanced to the regiment 
of Knyphausen and also made that corps prisoners. Some 
few officers and about two hundred men of the brigade, 
retreated to Colonel Donop's corps at Bordentown, six miles 
distant. Several officers were wounded and about forty men 
killed and wounded. This misfortune seems to have pro- 
ceeded from Colonel Rail's quitting his post and advancing 
to the attack, instead of defending the village. The rebels 
recrossed the river Delaware immediately, with the prison- 
ers and cannon they had taken 

I have the honor to be, &c. 

W. Howe. 

It will be noticed that General Howe, either because of 
his lack of reliable information or from his desire to divert 
the attention of his king from the primary cause of the dis- 
aster, his own foolish chain of cantonments, misrepresents 
Colonel Rail as quitting his post, forming in front of the 
village, and advancing to the attack. The truth of the 
matter is that Colonel Rail left his bed to join his men in 
the town, and rallied them at his headquarters to resist the 
terrible onset of the American column. 

On the last day of the year the Council of Safety of Penn- 
sylvania issued in Philadelphia an address to the people of 


that State,! announcing the arrival of the Hessian prisoners, 
and commending them to the friendly care of the people. 

In reference to the affair at Trenton and the part which 
the Hessians took therein, a jeii d'esprit"^ appears in the 
" Correspondance secrete et inedite," and is no doubt cor- 
rectly attributed to Dr. Benjamin Franklin. The text given 
is from Bigelow's life of Franklin. It is in the form of a 
letter from the Count de Schaumburg to the Baron Hohen- 
dorf, commanding the Hessian troops in America, and is 
dated at Rome, Italy, February 18, 1777. It is a neat satire 
on the traffic of these petty princes in the blood of their 

Early on the morning of Friday, December 27, Washington 
dispatched Lieutenant-Colonel George Baylor of his staff to 
the President of the Continental Congress at Baltimore, 
with his letter of that date, already given, and the Hessian 
captured flags. The news was received by Congress with 
joy, and by a vote on the morning of the New Year Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Baylor was presented with a horse, properly 
caparisoned, in token of their appreciation of his service and 
of the cheering report which he had brought. 

General Washington also sent Colonel John Chester of 
Colonel Sargent's brigade, on December 27, to take the 
good news to General Heath, with instructions for him to 
forward the same to the New England governors. Colonel 
Chester reported to General Heath at Peekskill, December 
30, and the news which he brought gave great encourage- 
ment to the Northern army. 

This glorious victory, following close upon so many dis- 
heartening defeats, had a wonderful effect upon the Ameri- 
can people. Washington's manoeuvre, executed in so spirited 
a manner and in such a desperate condition of affairs, com- 
manded the admiration of all the people, reflected great 

1 Part ii. No. 61. ^ Part ii. No. 62. 

3 See note on the battle of Trenton in Rosengarten's translation of 
Von Eelking's work on the German Allied Troops in the North Amer- 
ican War of Independence, p. 274. 


credit on the undrilled soldiery, brought recruits to the army, 
gave new vigor to an almost hopeless cause, and strength- 
ened the patriotism of Congress and the nation. It encour- 
aged the delegates in Congress to resolve that the cause 
must be maintained at all hazards, no matter what the sacri- 
fice. From that hour it seemed as though the people them- 
selves determined to be as free as their representatives had 
before declared that they were "and of right ought to be." 
The British generals were no longer considered models of 
military science, the Hessian hirelings, with their unknown 
tongue, rough manners and pillaging propensities, could now 
be conquered, and were no longer so thoroughly dreaded. 
The prestige which they had heretofore enjoyed was gone, 
and this to them was far worse than the actual loss of 

The astonishment of General Howe and Lord Cornwallis 
at this display of activity cannot be described. They had 
felt confident that the war was about at an end, and they 
could with difficulty understand how a forlorn, ill-clad, poorly 
fed party of men, — a force, too, on the very eve of dissolu- 
tion on account of the expiration of term of service, — a mob 
which for weeks had been running away from their invincible 
army, could so soon turn, and, with a valor unprecedented, 
accomplish such an enterprise upon the very flower of their 
army. This stroke was so unexpected, so unaccountable, 
that they were badly disconcerted, and could only look about, 
as is usual, for some one else on whom to throw the blame. 
Poor Rail, powerless now to speak in his own defense, fell 
under the ban of their displeasure. They blamed him be- 
cause he had not fortified his position. General Howe said : 
" If he had obeyed the orders I sent to him for the erecting 
of redoubts, I am confident his post would not have been 

The British soldiers, mortified at this terrible defeat, said 
the Hessians had acted like cowards ; but they forgot their 
splendid fighting on the banks of the Hudson a few weeks 
previous, and they overlooked the fact that the British dra- 


goons stationed in Trenton ran away at the beginning of 
the fight. 

Governor William Tryon of New York wrote to Lord 
George Germain, December 31, 1776: "The Rebels carry- 
ing off the Hessian Brigade under Colonel Rail at Trenton 
has given me more real chagrin than any other circumstance 
of this war ! the moment was critical and I believe the Rebel 
Chiefs were conscious that if some stroke was not struck 
that would give life to their sinking cause, they should not 
raise another army." 

The mortification of the rulers and the people of Great 
Britain was profound. It was with difficulty that they could 
be persuaded that any portion of the British army could be 
captured by the undisciplined yeomanry of America. The 
letter of General Howe to Lord Germain of January 20, 
1777, did not relieve this deep despondency, but caused the 
colonial secretary to ask for the embodiment of 20,000 addi- 
tional new troops. 1 

The Tory Joseph Galloway, once speaker of the House of 
Assembly of Pennsylvania, when examined before the British 
House of Commons in 1779, testified that if General Sir 
.William Howe had pursued General Washington across the 
Delaware, scattered the remains of his army, and taken up 
his quarters at Philadelphia, the Congress would not have 
been able to raise another army of any consequence, not 
5000 men, so as to take the field at the usual time of opening 
the campaign, and that the success of the rebels in defeating 
and making prisoners of the Hessians at Trenton had a 
mischievous effect on the British service, removed that panic 
with which the new states of the middle colonies were struck, 
revived their spirits and the spirits of the disaffected and 
induced a number of the militia to turn out who otherwise 
would not have done so, and contributed in a great measure 
to the raising of the army which General Washington com- 
manded in the next campaign. 

In alluding to this subject General Cornwallis remarked : 
1 Partii. No. 118. 


" The misfortune at Trenton was owing entirely to the impru- 
dence and negligence of the commanding officer. On all 
other occasions the troops ever have behaved and I dare say 
ever will behave with the greatest courage and intrepidity. 
The behavior on the attack on Fort Washington of this 
very brigade of Colonel Rhall's was the admiration of the 
whole army." 

It was useless, however, for Lord Cornwallis to censure 
his dead subordinate when the folly was in the first place 
clearly his own. His succession of cantonments along the 
shore of the Delaware River was little less than a blunder 
as a military movement, for it allowed the very opportunity, 
invited the very demonstration of which General Washington 
so promptly took advantage. 

Lord Germain's remark has passed into history : " All our 
hopes were blasted by that unhappy affair at Trenton." ^ 

Sir Henry Clinton comments on the condition of affairs in 
New Jersey in this language : — 

"There were who thought (and who were not silent) that 
a chain a cross Jersey might be dangerous. General Howe 
wrote to General Clinton thus a few days before the misfor- 
tune ! I have been prevailed upon to run a chain a cross 
Jersey ! the links are rather too far asunder ! General Grant 
was principally to blame ! he should have visited his posts, 
given his orders, and seen they had been obeyed. I am 
clear it would have been better if Sir W. Howe had not 
taken a chain across Jersey ! but General Grant is answer- 
able for every thing else." 

In reference to the loss of the Hessians at Trenton, Gen- 
eral Cornwallis, when he was being examined at the bar of 
the House of Commons, May 6, 1779, " declared that it had 
been necessary for the general to extend his chain of canton- 
ments to that distance, that he had himself indeed advised 
it, and that the fatal accident that afterward happened was 
not in human prudence to foresee, and therefore not to be 
guarded against." 

1 Part ii. No. 117. 


We have taken the following from the narrative of General 
Howe : " Where could the Hessian troops have been better 
employed than in the defense of a post. In the last war the 
Hessian troops were esteemed not unequal to any troops in 
King Ferdinand's army, two of these very battalions had 
served in Germany with great credit, and the whole brigade 
under Colonel Rail's command had given a recent proof of 
their bravery at the attack of Fort Knyphausen." Search- 
ing for a living man to censure, Howe selected Lieutenant- 
General Leopold Philipp von Heister, because he had urged 
the appointment of Colonel Rail to the command of that 
Hessian brigade. General von Heister was recalled by the 
Landgrave of Hesse, evidently in disgrace, left America June 
22, 1777, and died at Cassel, November 19, 1777, at the age 
of sixty-one years. 

The records at Marburg tell us that on the day after the 
surprise. General Grant wrote from Brunswick : " I did not 
think that all the rebels in America would have taken that 
brigade prisoners." 

Major Stephen Kemble, General Howe's deputy adjutant- 
general, uses this language in his " Observations " on the 
affair at Trenton, as found in his journal, and published 
in the New York Historical Society Collections, 1883, p. 
105 : "Why Post so small Detachments as to be in danger 
of Insult,' as happened in Rail's Affair, upon the Frontiers 
of your Line of Communication, or why put Hessians at the 
advanced Posts, particularly the Man at Trent own, who was 
Noisy, but not sullen, unacquainted with the Language and 
a Drunkard .'' " , 

The day after the battle of Trenton Colonel von Donop 
wrote to his superior officer, Lieutenant-General von Knyp- 
hausen, giving him some idea of his movements prior to 
December 26, and such m-eagre information of the fight as 
had been received by him up to the hour of writing.^ 

General Grant also wrote to Colonel von Donop,^ and the 
letters of the two officers must have crossed one another, as 
1 Part ii. No. 63. ^ Part ii. No. 64. 


the express riders took the same road ! They are inter- 
changes of vain regrets over the disaster to the British arms. 
In the German archives we find a letter, written in French 
by Lord George Germain, colonial secretary of state of King 
George III., to General von Heister. The following is a 
good translation of this important document : — 

White Hall 3rd of March 1777. 
Sir : 

I have the honour to receive your letter of January 5th, 
the news wherein I have given to the King. His Majesty 
had already heard of the misfortune which happened to the 
brigade of troops of his most Serene Highness, but was igno- 
rant of some of the particulars. One of the circumstances 
of this Affair your letter gives him in detail. The King 
regrets extremely the loss of the brave officers who have 
suffered on this occasion fighting in his service and His 
Majesty has learned with sorrow that the officer who com- 
manded this force and to whom this misfortune is to be 
attributed has lost his life by his rashness. It is to be hoped 
that the dangerous practice of underestimating the enemy 
may make a lasting impression on the rest of the army. As 
His Majesty has the greatest confidence in their courage 
and fidelity he does not doubt but that when the occasion 
presents itself they will try to wipe out this disgrace by 
their zeal and by their valor. 

I have the honour to be, with great 

esteem, distinguished Sir, your 

very humble and very obedient 
servant — 

Geo. Germain. 

There also appears in the records at Marburg, Germany, 
an official report of General von . Heister to the Prince of 
Hesse, giving him the unwelcome news of the capture of 
Rail's brigade. The writing of this report and its receipt 
must have caused sorrow and chagrin to both of these men.^ 
1 Part ii. No. 65. 


A letter from the Earl of Suffolk, secretary of state for 
foreign affairs, to General von Heister, written in French, is 
also in the archives of Germany, and is worth reading.^ 

Among the military papers on file in the state archives at 
Marburg are the letters received by the Hessian general 
officers in America. The following carefully translated ex- 
tracts from letters of William, Count of Hesse-Hanau and 
son of Frederick II., Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, will be 
found of interest : — 

To Lieutenant-General von Knyphausen. 

Cassel, April 7, 1777. 
I am accustomed to hold the honor of my troops so high 
that nothing worse could have happened to me than to re- 
ceive the information that my three regiments had in an 
unlucky moment lost their well-earned reputation. Nothing 
but an utter disregard of all drill and discipline could have 
caused this disgrace. I find it necessary to have a personal 
interview with Lieutenant-General von Heister and as the 
climate of the country does not seem to agree with his health 
I therefore write him to come here for a time and to trans- 
fer the command of my troops in America to the lieutenant- 
general commanding ; and I sincerely hope that he, feeling 
as I do the grievous shock at such disgraceful conduct, will 
see the indispensable necessity of expunging it and that he 
will not rest until my troops by a great series of brave acts 
obliterate the memory of this unlucky affair. The death of 
.Colonel Rail has taken him away from my wrath which he 
so well deserved in allowing himself in so inexcusable a way 
to be surprised. They also are without excuse who after 
Colonel Rail had been mortally wounded consented to sur- 
render themselves in such a shameful manner instead of 
making an effort to break through and fight their way out as 
is always expected of good soldiers when they cannot any 
longer hold the position. The number of men who suc- 
ceeded in escaping plainly shows what the rest could have 
> Part ii. No. 66. 


done if the officers remaining had done their duty and not 
put aside the obligations they were under to me, to the 
honour of my troops and to their own reputation. The full 
particulars of this shameful act are not known to me at 
present but nothing has as yet come to my knowledge which 
atones for this disgrace. I therefore order the lieutenant- 
general to examine all the officers on their return and report 
to me the exact state of the affair. I am compelled to make 
an example of the guilty party, and I will state in advance 
that these regiments will never receive any flags again, un- 
less they capture from the enemy as many as they have lost 
in such a disgraceful manner. . . . 

Greater than my joy at the honorable conduct of my 
troops on their arrival in America is now my surprise and 
indignation on reading the report of the unlucky affair at 
Trenton in the lieutenant-general's report of the 5th day of 
January. The loss of such well-organized regiments, with 
their flags and their cannon is not only an everlasting re- 
proach to my troops but I must believe according to the 
report of the affair which has come to my knowledge that 
these organizations did not regard their duty nor their own 
honour which up to that time they had guarded so well. I 
reserve still my decision until I am more fully informed of 
all the circumstances of this disgraceful affair, which could 
only have taken place by an utter disregard and neglect of 
all discipline and all existing orders. Colonel Rail was not 
a senior in rank on the army list and the lieutenant-general 
should not have intrusted him with a brigade but have taken 
the oldest colonel, even if he had to take him from a regi- 
ment on Staten Island or on Long Island. 

Other letters from the Hessian prince are given else- 
where. ^ 

It appears that General Knyphausen entered on this in- 
vestigation ordered by his sovereign and prosecuted it from 
time to time during the whole of the year 1777. At the 
1 Part ii. No. 67. 


beginning of the next year he wrote a report and dispatched 
it to Cassel, but during the spring and summer following 
continued, as directed, the examination of the officers and 
men whenever they were released from captivity. In an- 
swer to General Knyphausen's opinion, Frederick II., Land- 
grave of Hesse-Cassel, wrote him April 23, 1779.^ 

As soon as the exchange of the captured officers began, 
in the spring of 1778, and the liberated prisoners returned 
to the British army in Philadelphia a court was instituted to 
examine into the cause of the surprise at Trenton and to 
determine who was to blame for the disaster. Colonel Carl 
Uphraim von Gozen of the von Donop regiment, afterward 
of the regiment Prinz Carl, Major Ludwig Friedrich von 
Stamfurth of the regiment du Corps and Captain Ludwig 
Maive von Mallet of the von Linsingen battalion constituted 
the court. From time to time all the ofificers of the Rail 
brigade who were then living and who had not gone over to 
the American army testified before this court as to their 
knowledge of the affair. 

The first meeting of the court was held in Philadelphia 
April 13, 1778, and continued there April 14, 18, 21, 22, 28, 
May I and 2. Then Justin Heinrich Motz, upper auditor, 
prepared. May 4, 1778, a description of the surprise at Tren- 
ton " as far as I can understand it from the investigation 
documents." The court continued to convene May 7, 8, 9, 
II, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21 and 22. After a march through 
the Jerseys and the battle of Monmouth, June 28, 1778, it 
reconvened at Horn's Hook, near Haarlem, New York, in the 
camp of the regiment von Donop, and continued August 4, 
5,6, 7, 10, 12, 13 and 17. On August 18 it met at John's 
House, New York, on August 24 at Lieutenant-Colonel 
Scheffer's quarters, on August 29 again at Horn's Hook and 
at the Morris House on September 23, 1778. The result of 
all this investigation was attested by Justin Heinrich Motz, 
upper auditor, and sent to the Prince of Hesse, September 
23, 1778, officially signed and with the Hessian auditorial 

seal affixed. 

1 Part ii. No. 68. 


On December 22, 1778, a Hessian official at Cassel, Wa- 
german by name, made a digest of all the reports, state- 
ments and conclusions for the benefit of the Prince of Hesse. 

The investigation dragged along during the years 1780 
and 1 78 1, and on December 13, 1781, Auditor Johann Jacob 
Lotheisen gave to the Landgrave of Hesse an estimate of 
the killed and wounded of the Rail brigade.^ 

On January 5, 1782, a court-martial was again organized, 
and all the officers who took part in the affair at Trenton 
were again examined or had their former testimony read to 
them, they assenting to it. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Scheffer of the von Lossberg 
regiment was unable to be present before this court, and 
he sent a letter to them, v/hich communication is herewith 
given, as well as the proceedings of the court relative to 
their action in the matter.^ 

This court was in session for a week, and at the end of that 
time, January 11, 1782, the officers of each of the different 
ranks represented were called upon for their opinions as to 
the cause of the disaster at Trenton. It is very interesting 
to read the different views of the matter, from those of the 
young ensigns, up through the different grades, each officer 
having had longer experience in the service, until we learn 
what the veteran colonels had to say of the cause of the 
defeat. 3 

On the 15th day of April, 1782, a special commission 
which had been ordered by the Prince of Hesse to convene 
at Cassel to review all the minutes of the courts, the testi- 
mony there given and the opinions expressed, addressed to 
the prince a communication in which a final summing up of 
the whole case was attempted.* The war being then virtu- 
ally over, this was the last action taken in the matter. Dur- 
ing all these years the regiments of von Lossberg and von 
Knyphausen had not been allowed to carry new company 
and regimental colors. In 1777 the name of the grenadier 

1 Part ii. No. 69. 2 p^rt ii. No. 70. 

3 Part ii. No. 71. •* Part ii. No. 72. 


regiment Rail had been changed to the grenadier regiment 
Woellwarth, in 1778 to the regiment von Trumbach, and in 
1779 to the regiment d'Angelelli. 

The "War Commission" confirmed the "verdict" of the 
court of inquiry, that " Colonel Rail and Major von Dechow 
in many respects acted culpably and laid the foundation for 
the bad fate of the brigade." 

To many it has always been a matter of regret that the 
general plan of the surprise and attack could not have been 
fully carried out. General Ewing, as we have seen, found it 
impossible to get his troops across the river, on account of 
the drifting ice. Yet to some this failure appears provi- 
dential. If he had crossed during the night, according to 
orders, he must have kept his men entirely concealed from 
daylight until eight o'clock, although within easy sight of 
the barracks on Front street and within twenty minutes' 
walk of the guard of the Hessian force at the Assunpink 
bridge and the quarters of the von Knyphausen regiment in 
the square beyond. In addition to this there was a picket 
at Trenton Landing and an outpost at Dr. Bryant's house, on 
the river, from both of which places the crossing of General 
Ewing's men would have been plainly visible. If, however, 
he had succeeded in crossing, and had not been seen until 
eight o'clock, he certainly could have prevented the escape 
across the creek of many of the fugitives of Rail's brigade 
and have rendered important aid in the movements of the 
patriot army. On the other hand, had he been seen cross- 
ing the river, had he failed to surprise the out-guard at the 
landing, or had a single man of his command exposed himself 
to view before eight o'clock m the morning Rail's veterans 
would have picked up the little party of militia before break- 
fast, the Hessian regiments would not have been so thor- 
oughly surprised, and the American army must have fought 
a terrible battle with perhaps a different result. 

Although all history speaks of this intended crossing as at 
Trenton Ferry, it certainly appears reasonable that Bond's 
Ferry, two miles down the river, must have been the place 


selected for the crossing, for at that place a sudden bend in 
the river, there less than 300 yards wide, and the high 
grounds, now the Riverview Cemetery, between Bond's 
Ferry and Trenton, would have somewhat concealed the 
passage of Ewing's division from all but the picket at Tren- 
ton Landing. 

With what varied emotions the detachments of Generals 
Ewing and Dickinson must have listened to the firing, seen 
the rush of the attacking party of General Sullivan, as they 
swept the yager outpost from General Dickinson's own man- 
sion on the river bank, and watched the race of the victors 
through the lower streets of the village, and they unable 
to aid their comrades or share in the glories of the first real 
conquest of the war! 

Colonel Cadwalader also attempted to pass his division 
over the river, but was obliged to abandon the design. The 
floating ice above Bristol prevented a crossing, and he deter- 
mined to try Dunk's Ferry, a few miles below the town. 
Near this place the Third battalion of Philadelphia Asso- 
ciators had been encamped for thirteen days, and had erected 
some redoubts. The battalion was now in command of Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel John Ni.xon, the same who on July 8 read 
and proclaimed the Declaration of Independence in Philadel- 
phia for the first time. Soon after dark five large bateaux 
and three scows were ready at the ferry, and all the troops 
in Bristol marched there about eight o'clock in the evening 
of December 25. These troops were supplied with two days' 
cooked rations, but the Continentals were suffering greatly 
from want of shoes, stockings and clothing. On the march 
to the ferry the militia were on the right, and the New Eng- 
land brigade on the left of the column. Colonel Timothy 
Matlock, in command of the Philadelphia rifle battalion, led the 
advance of the brigade of Pennsylvania militia. The Kent 
County Delaware militia under Captain Thomas Rodney, and 
a battalion of four companies of militia from Philadelphia, 
Captain George Henry senior ofificer in command, embarked 
first, that they might cover the landing of the two brigades 


on the New Jersey shore. Both of these organizations suc- 
ceeded in crossing the river. About nine o'cloclc the First 
Philadelphia battalion of Associators started over the ferry, 
closely followed by the Third battalion, and an attempt was 
made to land two six-pounder brass fieldpieces. But the 
tides, which they evidently had forgotten, affect the river 
below the falls of the Delaware at Trenton, and nearly 300 
feet of thick ice which had just found a lodgment be- 
tween the boats and the Jersey shore rendered their task 
futile. The wind was blowing a gale, and the night was 
dark and very cold. It was found impossible to transport 
the guns over the ice, and it was hazardous to proceed with- 
out them. A single file of Colonel Glover's regiment of 
military mariners would have given them the proper time for 
crossing, and shown the way in which it could most easily 
be accomplished. Just before morning, after an all-night 
task in which Major Jehu Eyre, the noted shipwright of 
Philadelphia, labored with great assiduity, and although 
600 men had crossed, the troops all returned by order 
to the former post at Bristol, and Colonel Cadwalader was 
again in possession of his headquarters, at the tavern of 
Charles Bessonett, on the river bank. Had this entire divi- 
sion succeeded in crossing, all of the British and Hessian 
troops would doubtless have been driven from their canton- 
ments in Burlington County, and General Washington would 
have instantly secured for his army a firm hold upon a con- 
siderable portion of the State. 

Referring in his diary to the attempts of the divisions of 
General Ewing and Colonel Cadwalader ^ to cross the river 
into New Jersey, Captain Thomas Rodney says : " I am 
inclined to think that General Washington meant these only 
as feints, for if our generals had been in earnest, we could 
have taken Burlington with the light troops alone." 

Colonel Joseph Reed, Washington's adjutant-general, and 
Major Joseph Cowperthwaite of the First Philadelphia bat- 
talion of Associators, after crossing with the first detachment 
1 Part ii. No. 73. 


of the army at Dunk's Ferry, remained on the New Jersey 
side of the Delaware River. They concealed themselves in 
Dr. Bowes Reed's residence in Burlington, and through his 
brother's agency Colonel Reed managed to send out some 
spies to Mount Holly during Christmas night to ascertain 
the condition of the Hessian advance guard. They found 
the guard asleep in their quarters, not expecting attack and 
apparently regardless of it ; indeed, in the same situation as 
their comrades at Trenton. After obtaining this important 
information, the two officers returned unseen from Burling- 
ton, and at daylight landed at Bristol. 

As soon as he heard of the disaster at Trenton, Colonel 
von Donop, the hitherto cautious officer, who had just made 
the foolish and fruitless pursuit of Colonel Griffin's command, 
which had decoyed him to Mount Holly, went to Black Horse 
and thence to AUentown. He deemed it important, as he 
said, to keep the way open to Princeton, and thought it best 
to retire before an enemy approached. He then sent Cap- 
tain Thomas Gamble, the acting quartermaster-general, to 
Princeton to inform General Leslie of the direful news he 
had received, and how he proposed to act. He had then but 
nine cartridges for each of his cannon, and his ammunition 
for firelocks was very small. 

He also sent an order to Lieutenant-Colonel von Minni- 
gerode, in command at Bordentown, to vacate that place and 
join him immediately. This order the lieutenant-colonel re- 
ceived at midnight, December 26. Early in the morning of 
December 27 his men despoiled the library of Francis Hop- 
kinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, com- 
mitted other injuries to the place and the people, and then 
left the village in great haste. In this way all the outposts 
in the advance toward Philadelphia were abandoned. The 
Hessians left twenty sick and wounded men in Bordentown 
for the patriots to care for and some provisions and forage 
which they were unable to carry away for want of wagons. 
All the fugitives of Rail's brigade, reported at this time as 
292 men, including the picket force at Crosswicks bridge. 


accompanied Lieutenant-Colonel von Minnigerode to Allen- 

It may be mentioned here that Captain Heinrich Ludwig 
Boking, the ranking officer of the Rail regiment, was placed 
in charge of all the escaped men of this brigade until just 
before they arrived in Princeton, when he was superseded 
by Captain Alexander von Wilmowsky, formerly of the regi- 
ment von Bose, who commanded them until, marching by 
way of Amboy, they arrived in New York city. 

The following order issued by General Howe appears to 
have reference to the men who escaped to Bordentown and 
Princeton on December 26 : — 

Head Quarters New York Jan ist 1777 

The Remains of Col. Rail's Brigade being under Orders 
for New York the Deputy Quarter Master General will pro- 
vide Vessels to receive them, at Amboy, where they are to 
Embark, and the Barrack-Master of New York will prepare 
Barracks to receive them. . . . 

During the afternoon of Friday, December 27, General 
Leslie, then in command at Princeton, wrote to Colonel von 
Donop, expressing his regrets for the disaster at Trenton. ^ 
In this letter General Leslie desired Colonel von Donop 
to remain at Allentown, but subsequently he must have be- 
come alarmed at the situation of affairs, and have spent a 
wakeful night. No doubt exaggerated accounts of the affair 
at Trenton and of the condition of Washington's army were 
hourly coming to his notice. At all events it seems that at 
two o'clock he wrote to Colonel von Donop, and at daylight 
an express rider took another letter to the Hessian com- 

Colonel von Donop answered General Leslie's letters im- 
mediately. His reply, singular to relate, is written in French 
instead of German : — 

1 Part ii. No. 74. 

2 For these letters see Part ii. No. 75. 


Sir : 

I was fortunate in receiving your communication of this 
morning at eight o'cloclc and I will set all in motion, although 
the news of yesterday from Trenton does not inform me 
about the 1400 men which according to your information 
have marched toward Pennington to join the Jersey Troops 
at Rocky Hill. 


Allextown 28th Dec 1776. 

Will you have the kindness to advise me whether I ought 
in marching to join you with all my force or whether I ought 
to stop some on the way or post some of them here. 

General Grant, the British commanding officer at Bruns- 
wick, sent an express to General Howe at New York, desir- 
ing instructions as to where he should place Colonel von 
Donop's force, but in the mean time he wrote to von Donop, 
giving him orders as to what he should do until plans for the 
future should be settled. ^ 

At eight o'clock on- the morning of December 28 a re- 
port reached Colonel von Donop that 1400 rebels had 
landed in Trenton, marched to Pennington and thence to 
Rocky Hill, where they had united with a large body of New 
Jersey militia for the purpose of making an attack. on Prince- 
ton. Colonel von Donop sent his baggage to Cranbeny 
under a guard of 100 grenadiers commanded by Captain 
Johann Friedrich von Stein, whom he instructed to wait 
there for orders, and then, taking the direct road, he_ 
marched with all his force toward Princeton. "Scarcely was 
his column in motion when he received General Grant's let- 
ter, ordering him to go into garrison at Princeton. Two 
hours afterward he received another letter from General 
Grant, brought by Lieutenant Patrick Henry, adjutant of 
Lieutenant-Colonel Elisha Lawrence's First battalion of New 
Jersey volunteers, loyalists, of Brigadier-General Courtlandt 
Skinner's command.^ 

1 Part ii. No. 76. 2 p^^t ii. No. 77. 


General Leslie was ordered to send toward Trenton a 
patrol and guard of light infantry to obtain news and to 
cover somewhat the march of von Donop's force to Prince- 
ton. He was also directed that on the arrival of this column 
he should place some of the British troops at Kingston and 
at Six Mile Run, and station the second brigade of the 
British line and the Forty-second regiment of foot at Rocky 
Hill, and let them throw out pickets towards Pluckemin. 

As soon as von Donop arrived at Princeton, he reported 
the fact to his superior officer, General Grant, at Brunswick, 
and touched upon the condition of matters there. ^ 
1 Part ii. No. 78. 


Colonel von Donop's force arrived in Princeton at two 
o'clock in the afternoon of December 28, and immediately 
went into quarters to take the place of Leslie's brigade of 
the British line. The von Minnigerode battalion succeeded 
in finding houses for their occupancy in the town, the Forty- 
second regiment quartered toward Stony Brook on the road 
to Maidenhead, the yagers in houses north of Princeton on 
the road to Kingston, and the von Linsingen and Block 
battalions, with the men of the Rail brigade, remained in 
Kingston. Even then there were ,not sufficient houses in 
which to quarter von Donop's entire command, and the first 
night some 400 men were obliged to camp out in the open 
fields. An order was sent to Captain von Stein at Cran- 
berry to bring the baggage on to Princeton. He reported 
in Princeton on the night of December 29. 

General Leslie did not relish the idea of leaving his plea- 
sant quarters in Princeton, and he tried in every way to 
delay his own departure, hoping that some change might be 
made in the orders and he be allowed to retain the chief 
command in the town. 

During the night of December 28 additional reports 
reached Princeton of the movements of American troops in 
New Jersey. The Forty-second regiment was then sent 
towards Maidenhead, where the light infantry was stationed, 
and the von Linsingen regiment took its place at Stony 
Brook and toward Eight Mile Run. At the slightest alarm 
Colonel Block at Kingston was to march his men to the 
high ground around the college at Princeton. The yagers 
were directed to form a rear-guard. The baggage of von 
Donop's division was kept packed that it might be quickly 
sent on to Brunswick if necessary. 


Colonel von Donop then ordered two small redoubts to be 
erected on the south side of Princeton village, and made 
other preparations for the anticipated attack on his post. 
On the 29th of December another rumor reached him of 
the approach of General Washington's army. The next day 
strong patrols were sent out from Maidenhead toward Pen- 
nington, but they could not discover any traces of the Amer- 
icans. About nine o'clock in the morning the Hessians 
captured an officer of the "rebel army " who evidently was 
trying to discover the position and condition of the British 

Referring again to the movements of the American army, 
we remark that Colonel Cadwalader had heard the firing at 
Trenton early in the morning of December 26, but had sup- 
posed it was from guns on the west bank of the river. He 
did not think Washington's column could have succeeded 
in crossing the river with their cannon when he had been 
unable to do so. About eleven o'clock, however, he received 
from General Ewing the intelligence of the crossing of Gen- 
eral Washington's army and of the suprise of the Hessians 
which General Ewing' s force had just witnessed. He im- 
mediately gave orders that the troops should rest that day 
and be ready to cross early on the morning of December 27. 
During the day supplies of clothing reached Bristol from 
Philadelphia, and the New England brigade, which was " in 
want of shoes, stockings and breeches," was soon in a better 
condition. About ten o'clock on Friday, leaving their camp 
equipage behind with a small party under command of Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel William Coates of the First battalion Phila- 
delphia Associators, the division began to cross the river at 
Minnick's Ferry, about a mile above Bristol. ^ As on Christ- 
mas night, the light troops covered the landing, and the 
crossing was completed just before three o'clock in the 
afternoon. It was then that Colonel Cadwalader first learned 

1 This ferry was called after its owner. Christian Minnick. In the 
year 1795 it was changed to Bloomsdale Ferry. The ferry landing in 
Pennsylvania is now on property owned by D. Landreth & Sons. 


of the retreat of Colonel von Donop's force from Borden- 
town and Mount Holly. The full account of the victory at 
Trenton was also communicated to him, with the perplexing 
statement that the army had returned to its former encamp- 
ment in Pennsylvania. He was now greatly embarrassed to 
know how to proceed, ignorant as he was of the future plans 
of the commander-in-chief. A council of his officers was 
held, and while some urged a return to Pennsylvania, others 
thought that the new troops should be immediately allowed 
to face the enemy, as they desired, and to share if possible 
in the results of the victory won by their comrades. It was 
at last determined to repair to Burlington. This plan was 
carried out with great caution and much delay caused by 
a circuitous march of some miles to avoid the Assiscunk 
Creek, a navigable stream. Later it was discovered that it 
would have been quite as easy to ha\'e gone to Bordentown 
as to Burlington, which latter movement might almost be 
called a retreat before a flying foe. 

The march from the ferry landing to Burlington was made 
with the rifle battalion in single file on the right and then 
the light infantry in double rank. The artillery followed, 
and behind them came the main body of the troops in 
platoons. In this way Burlington was reached about nine 
o'clock in the evening. No enemy was found in the village, 
and all in the immediate vicinity were in great consternation. 

Early on the morning of December 27, General Washing- 
ton wrote an account of the surprise at Trenton and sent 
it to Colonel Cadwalader, who received it that evening.^ 

From Burlington Colonel Cadwalader wrote the follow- 
ing letter to General Washington. It was commenced in 
the morning, but not finished until the afternoon, when he 
received the commander-in-chief's letter : — 

' Part ii. No. 79. 


Burlington 27th December 1776 
10 o'clock. 
Sir : 

As I did not hear from you this morning and being pre- 
pared to embark, I concluded you was still on this side and 
therefore embarked and landed about 1 500 men about two 
miles above Bristol. After a considerable number were 
landed, I had information from the paymaster of Colonel 
Hitchcock's Brigade, that you had crossed over from Tren- 
ton. This defeated the scheme of joining your army. We 
were much embarrassed which way to proceed. I thought 
it most prudent to retreat, but Colonel Reed was of opinion 
that we might safely proceed to Burlington and recom- 
mended it warmly, lest it should have a bad effect on the 
militia, who were twice disappointed. The landing in open 
daylight must have alarmed the enemy and we might have 
been cut off by all his force collected to this place. We had 
intelligence immediately afterwards that the enemy had left 
the Black Horse and Mount Holly ! upon this we deter- 
mined to proceed to Burlington. Colonel Reed and two 
other officers went on from one post to another, 'till they 
came to Bordentown, where they found the coast clear. 
Colonel Reed and Colonel Coxe are now there and we shall 
march at four to-morrow morning for that place. 

This information has induced me to proceed, though not 
quite conformable to your orders which I received on the 
march this afternoon. If you should think proper to cross 
over, it may be easily effected at the place where we passed ; 
a pursuit would keep up the panic. They went off with 
great precipitation and pressed all the wagons in their reach. 
I am told many of them are gone to South Amboy. If we 
can drive them from West Jersey, the success will raise an 
army next spring and establish the credit of the Continental 
money to support it. I shall write to you to-morrow, I hope 
from Trenton. 

I am, Sir, your most obedient, very humble servant 

John Cadwalader. 


P. S. — I have two six-pounders, brass and two three- 
pounders, iron. 

Colonel Cadwalader immediately sent out scouts and 
adopted such a course as the information gained might war- 
rant. Adjutant-General Joseph Reed, with Lieutenant- 
Colonel John Cox and Major Joseph Cowperthwaite, went 
toward Bordentown in search of the Hessian pickets, but of 
course found their posts deserted. Passing through Borden- 
town, where the Hessians had left their stores and their 
sick and wounded. Colonel Reed rode on to Trenton, which 
he entered long before daylight on Saturday, December 28. 

He found that village deserted by both armies, and the 
inhabitants in ,a state of fearful anxiety, not knowing what 
new movement was about to be made on the town. The 
condition of affairs there was immediately communicated 
to General Washington by Colonel Reed, who respectfully 
urged him to come over to the Jerseys and follow up his 

Colonel Cadwalader's entire command, joined by the ma- 
rines from the armed boats on the Delaware River com- 
manded by Major Samuel Nicholas, Captains Isaac Craig, 
Thomas Read, William Shippin and William Brown, left 
Burlington about nine o'clock, the light troops having left 
just after daylight, and they all reached Bordentown at two 
o'clock on the afternoon of December 29, having marched 
on the River road by way of Crooked Billet and White 
Hill. The whole country had been pillaged ; no grain nor 
hay nor live stock was to be found in all the day's march. 

The American advance troops entered the village of Bor- 
dentown with great caution. It was known that the main 
body of the British army had deserted the town, but it was 
understood that their light horse were near and ready to 
make an attack at any moment. However, the town was 
gradually surrounded, pickets were thrown out on all the 
roads, and after an hour had elapsed the Americans took 
possession of the village. A small hospital, very dirty, and 


containing a few sick and wounded Hessians, was the only 
evidence of the former occupation by the German troops. 

Soon after the arrival of the Americans in Bordentown, 
a party of lOO riflemen, 100 light infantry and 100 active 
young men, picked from the militia, was sent toward Cross- 
wicks and on the Old York road to harass the rear of Colo- 
nel von Donop's column, which rumor said was moving 
slowly, being encumbered with much plunder and baggage. 

On December 29 the advance detachment were reinforced 
by another strong body of militia, and they pressed on 
through Allentown as far as Cranberry. They did not suc- 
ceed in reaching the main body of Colonel von Donop's 
corps, but overtook only the straggling parties. At Cran- 
berry they received orders to return, and that same night 
marched back as far as Allentown. A few prisoners were 
made by these detachments on reconnoissance, a German 
officer was killed and a standard of the Bernberg company 
of bne of the Hessian regiments was captured. This stand- 
ard is still preserved. 

Glancing for a moment at Congress, then in session at 
Baltimore, we find that on December 27 they resolved to 
invest the commander-in-chief with extraordinary powers, 
and, as it was asserted at the time, with the office of " Dic- 
tator" of the United States. This was done before the 
tidings of the victory af Trenton reached them, on account 
of the urgent state of public affairs, their distance from the 
theatre of war, and the immediate necessity for a vigorous 
reinforcement of the army. The text of their proceedings 
is as follows : — 

"This Congress, having maturely considered the present 
crisis, and having perfect reliance on the wisdom, vigour and 
uprightness of general Washington, do hereby 

" Resolve, That general Washington shall be and he is 
hereby vested with full, ample and complete powers to raise 
and collect together, in the most speedy and effectual man- 
ner, from any or all of these United States, sixteen battalions 
of infantry in addition to those voted by Congress ; to 


appoint officers for the said battalions of infantry ; to raise, 
officer and equip 3000 light horse ; three regiments of artil- 
lery and a corps of engineers and to establish their pay ; to 
apply to any of the states for such aid of the militia as he 
shall judge necessary ; to form such magazines of provisions 
and in such places as he shall think proper ; to displace and 
appoint all officers under the rank of brigadier-general and to 
fill up all vacancies in every other department in the Ameri- 
can armies ; to take, wherever he may be, whatever he may 
want for the use of the army, if the inhabitants will not sell 
it, allowing a reasonable price for the same ; to arrest and 
confine persons who refuse to take the Continental Currency 
or are otherwise disaffected to the American cause ; and 
return to the States, of which they are citizens, their names, 
and the nature of their offences, together with the witnesses 
to prove them : That the foregoing powers be vested in gen- 
eral Washington, for and during the term of six months from 
the date hereof, unless sooner determined by Congress." 

In the letter transmitting the resolve of Congress to Gen- 
eral Washington, this passage occurs : " Happy it is for this 
country, that the General of their forces can safely be 
entrusted with the most unlimited power, and neither per- 
sonal security, liberty nor property be in the least degree 
endangered thereby." 

General Washington wrote to the president of Congress in 
reference to this mark of the confidence reposed in him : — 

"I begjeave to assure them, that all my faculties shall be 
employed to direct properly the powers they have been 
pleased to vest me with, and to advance those objects, and 
only those, which gave rise to this honourable mark of dis- 
tinction. If my exertions should not be attended with the 
desired success, I trust the failure will be imputed to the 
true cause, the peculiarly distressed situation of our affairs 
and the difficulties I have to combat, rather than to a want 
of zeal for my country, and the closest attention to her inter- 
est, to promote which has ever been my study." ^ 

^ Ford's Writings of George Washington, vol. v. p. 139. 


The same day, January i, 1777, he wrote to the Commit- 
tee of Congress, Messrs. Clymer, Morris and Walton, who 
had transmitted the resolve of Congress to him : " I find 
they have done me the honour to intrust me with powers, in 
my military capacity of the highest nature and almost unlim- 
ited in extent. Instead of thinking myself freed from all 
civil obligations, by this mark of confidence, I shall constantly 
bear in mind, that as the sword was the last resort for the 
preservation of our liberties, so it ought to be the first thing 
laid aside, when those liberties are firmly established." ^ 

These resolutions gave General Washington all the au- 
thority necessary to recruit and reorganize his command in 
his own way, and then to sustain it in the field. It also gave 
him the power, so much needed before, to organize engineer 
regiments and recruit the cavalry and artillery arms to an 
efficient standard. It gave him the opportunity to enlist 
men for a long term of service instead of for a few weeks or 
months, as heretofore ; to embody troops into a permanent 
force instead of enlisting them in a temporary army ; to 
reform the two weak points of the American army — short 
enlistments and the depending on the rallying of an undisci- 
plined militia in the moment of peril. 

In reference to the condition of the American army at 
this time, Burke remarks in his " History of Virginia : " 
" Like other arts, the art of war requires an apprenticeship 
and the protracted duration of most contests between mod- 
ern governments necessitates symmetry and continuity of 
warlike measures, persevering and patient constancy, me- 
chanical rather than impulsive courage, all which are scarcely 
compatible with short enlistments." 

As soon as Washington received the letter of his adjutant- 
general from Trenton, having obtained some reinforcements 
to that part of the army under his immediate command, he 
resolved to return to New Jersey ; and General Greene 
immediately crossed the river at Trenton Ferry with 300 
^ Ford's Writings of George Washington, vol. v. p. 143. 


men, and took possession of the village of Trenton. Before 
moving, the commander-in-chief sent a report to Congress. ^ 

On Monday morning, December 30, General Washington 
crossed the river at McKonkey's Ferry, in advance of the 
main body of his troops, and hurried on to Trenton. During 
the day the army made the passage of the Delaware River 
at Johnson's Ferry, Howell's Ferry, Beatty's Ferry and 
Trenton Ferry, the boats having been brought down from 
Malta Island. To secure the ferries and guard the sur- 
rounding country against any surprise by strolling parties of 
British, General Washington left in Pennsylvania a small 
command, with headquarters at Newtown, under General 
Lord Stirling, who had been afflicted with rheumatism since 
the affair at Trenton. All that day and the most of the day 
following, the army was engaged in transpprting baggage, 
provisions and artillery, including the six captured cannon, 
across the Delaware River. Captain Forrest's artillery com- 
pany were unable to move " for want of shoes and watch- 
coats." The floating ice was still a constant and annoying 
hindrance. The weather, however, was rather mild, and 
this, with the remains of the snow and hail storm of the pre- 
vious week, rendered the roads exceedingly muddy. 

On arriving at Trenton, the general established his head- 
quarters at the house of Major John Barnes, a loyahst, who 
was at that time a field officer of the First battalion. New 
Jersey volunteers, of General Courtlandt Skinner's Tory 
brigade. This house was on Queen street, near the Assun- 
pink Creek bridge, and Washington remained there until the 
morning of the 2d of January, when he had his baggage 
moved to Jonathan Richmond's tavern, on the south side of 
the bridge. 

To return to the British army and its movements. We 
have seen that a detachment of General Leslie's command 
made a reconnoissance toward Pennington. On their way 
there they passed out of the Scotch road, and endeavored 
to procure some intelligence of the whereabouts of General 
1 Part ii. No. 80. 



Washington and his army from the inmates of Benjamin 
Clarke's house at Birmingham. Failing to find any trace of 
the American army, they at last became convinced that all 
the rumors of movements to Pennington and Rocky Hill 
were false. 

General Cornwallis, who was at this time in New York, 
packing his mihtary chest for a trip to England, and filling 
his notebook for the ear of the king with memoranda of the 


triumph of his army in the Jerseys, was suddenly aroused 
from his self-complacency by the news of the terrible disaster 
at Trenton. General Howe immediately ordered him back 
to his command, and directed that all his troops should be 
massed for an immediate advance. 

The commander of the British post at Brunswick, Major- 
General Grant, marched with his force to Princeton on the 
first day of January, leaving only about 600 men to guard 
the stores in Brunswick. These were in charge of Brigadier- 
General Edward Mathew. General Grant reached Prince- 
ton at noon that same day. 



General Cornwallis joined General Grant on the evening 
of January i with a considerable body of well-disciplined 
soldiers, — the flower of the army in America. That night 
Lord Cornwallis took possession, as his headquarters, of 
" Morven," the residence of Richard Stockton, a signer of 
the Declaration of Independence. The outposts of the 
British were then at Eight Mile Run, about three and one 
half miles south of Princeton. ^ 

On Thursday morning, January 2, Cornwallis, now in full 
command of an army of nearly 8000 men, having sent all his 
baggage back to Brunswick, started on his march to Tren- 
ton. Slow and wearisome was the tramp and difficult the 
task of hauling the guns over the muddy roadway. 

The Fourth brigade of the British hne, — Grant's bri- 
gade, but now under command of its senior officer, Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Mawhood, Seventeenth foot, — with three 
regiments and three troops of light dragoons, in all about 
1200 men, with two pieces of artillery, was left in Prince- 
ton as a rear-guard, but was ordered to march to Trenton 
on the morning of January 3. In addition to this brigade 
there were some soldiers who had been on extra duty in and 
around New York, and who came to Princeton during the 
day, under orders to rejoin their respective organizations. 

The second brigade, under command of General Leslie 
(formerly colonel Sixty-fourth foot, and an aide-de-camp to 
the king, but now acting as a brigadier-general in America), 
was ordered by Cornwallis to remain at Maidenhead, now 
Lawrenceville. At least 5500 men continued on the march 
to take part in the anticipated fight in Trenton. The royal 
artillery had with them at this time four light twelve- 
pounders, fourteen six-pounders, eight three-pounders and 
two five and a half inch howitzers.^ 

' For composition of British forces in New Jersey at this time, see 
Part ii. No. 81. 

^ The following is the roster of the officers of the regiments left at 
Princeton ; — 

The Seventeenth regiment had for its colonel Lieutenant-General the 




While he was gathering together his troops for the con- 
flict which appeared so certain and so near at hand, General 
Washington tried in every way to ascertain the strength and 
disposition of the forces of the enemy. His brave adjutant- 
general, Colonel Joseph Reed, again did the cause good service. 
On December 30, accompanied by two officers. Second Lieu- 
tenant James Budden and Cornet John Dunlap, Sergeant 

Hon. Robert ;\Ionckton. it.s commandinij; officer; lieutenant-colonel, 
Charles Mawhood ; and its major. Turner von Straubenzee. The captains 
of companies were Francis Tew, William John Darby. Perkins MaLCra. 
Robert Clayton, William Brereton, C.eorge Philip Hooke, ^\'illiam 
.Scott, John McPherson, Hon. William Leslie and Thomas Welch. 

The Fortieth regiment had for its honorary colonel Major-General 
.Sir Robert Hamilton, baronet, its lieutenant-colonel Thomas Mu.sgrave, 
and its major Samuel Bradstreet. Its captains were James Duffe, James 
Wemys.s, William i\Iontgomery, John Graves Simcoe, Williams Wolfe, 
William Bamford, FIdward F2vre, John M. Adlam. and Robert Atostvn. 

The Fiftv-hfth regiment was General James Grant's own regiment, 
and was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel William Meadows, and its 
major was Cornelius Cuyler. The captains were John Luke, John C,il- 
lan, Garrett Fisher, Henry Downing, John Taylor Trevor, John McLach- 
lan, Decimus Reynolds, William Sutherland and Michael Hamerton. 


Thomas Leiper, Corporals William Pollard and James Hunter, 
and Privates Samuel Caldwell, George Campbell, John Don-' 
naldson, Samuel Howell, Jr., John Lardner, Thomas Peters, 
Benjamin Randolph, all of Captain Samuel Morris's Phila- 
delphia troop of light horse. Colonel Reed endeavored to 
reconnoitre the position of the enemy. General Washington 
was anxious to know the strength of the British force and 
the probable direction of their intended attack. The party 
of thirteen rode within three miles of Princeton, but on ac- 
count of the guards were unable to get nearer to the village. 
They then attempted to go around it and get in at the rear 
of the army, but in this also they found some difficulty. 
Having obtained all the information possible, they started to 
return to Trenton. As they were riding along the Quaker 
road, they observed some soldiers, apparently unarmed, pass- 
ing between a barn and a dwelling-house. This house the 
light horse party surrounded, and they secured twelve Brit- 
ish dragoons, who had been engaged in foraging, and had 
left their loaded arms within the house. The sergeant of 
the troop alone escaped, and he reported that he had fought 
his way through fifty horsemen. Besides the British sol- 
diers taken prisoners, a commissary was also captured, with 
his entire wagon train. From these prisoners they obtained 
a good account of the numbers and condition of the British 
army, and the rumor that they were about to move upon the 
American force at Trenton was confirmed. A part of the 
dwelling-house referred to as the scene of this little exploit 
is still standing, and is now occupied by Mr. John Tindall 
Flock. It is in the township of West Windsor, Mercer 
County, about three miles from Princeton and a half mile 
southeast of the village of Clarksville. 

As soon as Washington was advised of the movements of 
the British troops, he took position on the high ridge which 
runs along the south bank of the Assunpink Creek. In the 
mean time orders had been sent to Cadwalader (who on De- 
cember 25, 1776, had been made a general officer of the 


Pennsylvania militia ^ by the Council of Safety, and was then 
at Crosswicks, about eight miles distant from Trenton) to 
join the main army with his full command. In the councils 
of the commander-in-chief, General Washington and his offi- 
cers had discussed the advisability of ordering Cadwalader 
to make a rapid detour by the road to Cranberry and attack 
the small garrison at Brunswick, recapture Major-General 
Charles Lee, and carry off all the military and commissary 
stores which General Mathews's force were guarding there. 

On the night of December 30 General Cadwalader re- 
ceived information that Brunswick had but a guard of 250 
men, and a body of light troops started out to attack them 
should the report be true. On the next day they made a 
forced march to Cranberry, and then began to gather horses 
to enable them to execute the affair quickly. In the mean 
time spies who had been in Brunswick reported that the 
guard there had been reinforced by 1500 men, and this of 
necessity rendered the design impracticable. Accordingly, 
in the darkness and through deep mud the troops wearily 
plodded back to Allentown. 

In this critical time General Washington made another 
appeal to the New Jersey militia. He sent out a body of 
influential men to gather in the state forces. This commit- 
tee consisted of Colonel John Neilson, Second regiment of 
Middlesex County ; Major John Taylor, Fourth regiment of 
Hunterdon County; Major John Van Emburgh, Second 
regiment of Middlesex County, and Major Frederick Fre- 
linghuysen, brigade major, staff of General Dickinson. 

General Washington also issued the following " call to 
arms : '• 

"' General Washington addressed him as Colonel Cadwalader on De- 
cember 23, 1776, and expressed a wish that he should be made a brig- 
adier, and in a letter to the President of the Continental Congress, De- 
cember 27, he refers to him as General Cadwalader. But he seems 
from the Pennsylvania Archives not to have been commissioned as 
such until April 5, 1777, as heretofore stated. 

2 Original in possession of William R. Weeks of Newark, New 

^ '--.'^ 



■■■-■■ > ■ 

1 I 

Tv .^i 

1 .. 



f \ 







General Thomas Mifflin had been wonderfully suc- 
cessful in obtaining recruits for the army from the neighbor- 
ing counties, under the instructions to him by Congress on 
December lo, " by all the means in his power to rouse and 
bring them in to the defense of Philadelphia." On the 27th 
day of December he sent 500 men from Philadelphia across 
the Bristol ferry to Burlington. The next day 300 more 
were sent over at the same place, and on December 29 
General MifHin followed in person with 800 soldiers, assum- 
ing command of these troops, with headquarters at Borden- 

This force was chiefly composed of farmers, mechanics 
and men in mercantile pursuits, — men who knew nothing 
of war, of the dangers of battle, the weary march, and the 
exposure in sleeping on the frozen ground without tents or 
blankets. Yet it is probable that no stancher patriots ever 
enrolled themselves than those who are here enumerated, 
who left their homes in this crisis to do battle for the free- 
dom of their country. 

On December 28 Captain Thomas Procter's battery left 
Philadelphia with two fieldpieces, and joined the army on 
the following day. Colonel James Penrose was left in com- 
mand of the post at Burlington. The entire body of new 
troops then marched up the River road to Bordentown. On 
the first day of January they were ordered to join the main 
army at Trenton. 

On December 29 General Cadwalader left Bordentown 
about two o'clock in the afternoon, and marched his column, 
now about 2100 men, to Crosswicks, arriving there at dusk. 

1 For General Mifflin's orders and return of these troops see Part ii. 
No. 82. 


Having posted his command in and near the meeting house 
there, he communicated with the commander-in-chief, and 
awaited further orders.^ 

On the first day of January General Cadwalader was 
directed to join General Washington's army at Trenton. 
He marched his force along the White Horse road, crossing 
Doctor's Creek and the Sand Hills, and, being joined by 
General Mifflin's division at the White Horse Tavern, the 
whole column moved on to Trenton. 

It was not until eleven o'clock on the morning of Janu- 
ary 2, however, that the whole of the additional force, about 
3600 men, could be concentrated on the banks of the Assun- 
pink Creek. Some time had been required to gather in the 
picket-guards and the scouting parties which had been sent 
out toward Allentown, Cranberry and Princeton. It had 
rained during the night, and the roads were muddy and 
travel greatly hindered. 

Still more embarrassing than the apparent paucity of 
numbers and the inexperience of recruits was the fact that 
a large number of the old soldiers of the Continental army, 
especially those from the Eastern States, had completed 
their term of service on the last . day of the year, and were 
about to march homeward, almost "to the music of the 
enemy's cannon." 

General Knox, whom Congress had promoted on the day 
after the attack on Trenton, addressed the troops December 
31, and urged them to remain for a few days longer. Gen- 
eral Thomas MifHin also came up from Bordentown to speak 
to the soldiers. John Howard of Colonel Lippitt's regiment 
describes him on this occasion as "mounted on a noble- 
looking horse and clothed in an overcoat made up of a large 
rose blanket and a large fur cap on his head." In this rather 
unmilitary garb he urged the old troops with the most patri- 
otic appeals to stand by the cause of independence. Gen- 
eral Washington told the men that so far they had served 
with great fidelity, and he frankly admitted that they had a 
1 Part ii. No. 83. 




right to their discharge, but begged them to look at the posi- 
tion in which they would place the cause "of liberty if they 
now left for their homes. He alluded to the victory they 
had achieved a few days previous, and showed them how all 
this would be naught if they did not attempt to check the 
advance of the foe. 

General Mifflin also had been to Crosswicks, and in com- 
pany with General Cadwalader he made an appeal to Colo- 
nel Hitchcock's New England brigade to uphold the cause 
of national freedom until the campaign was over. Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel William Henshaw said to his Massachusetts 
men : " At present this is our business, let us not forsake it. 
It is you and I, brave boys, who are banded together in one 
common cause. We scorn the thought of flying from it." 
They consented. The time of the First and Second Rhode 
Island regiments expired with the year, but the Third regi- 
ment had still eighteen days to serve. The appeals to their 
patriotism and sense of right prevailed, and they, too, re- 


In these addresses General Mifflin made some promises 
with reference to captured property that were never fulfilled. 
Whether or not these pledges really affected them, it is dif- 
ficult to say ; but the request for at least six weeks more of 
service and an offer of a bounty of ten dollars, the same 
which Pennsylvania had already given her militia, caused some 
1400 of the old Continental troops to poise their firelocks as 
a sign that they consented to the agreement. On the first 
day of January the eminent financier Robert Morris of Phil- 
adelphia sent " His Excellency General Washington" ^50,000 
which he had collected from his friends in Philadelphia on 
his own credit or had taken from his private purse. This 
amount was in addition to the sum of hard money, " four 
hundred and ten Spanish dollars, two crowns, ten shillings 
and sixpence in English coin and a French half crown," 
which he had forwarded to General Washington a few days 
previous. The last installment was sent with a characteristic 
letter congratulating General Washington on the affair at 
Trenton, and adding, " If further occasional supplies of 
money are necessary, you may depend on my exertions 
either in a public or private capacity. The year seventeen 
seventy-six is over and I am heartily glad of it and hope you 
nor America will be plagued with such another." In this 
way when the military chest was empty and the emergency 
was pressing, this noble patriot exerted himself, and always 
with success, to contribute to the support of the army. 

The new and old troops which gathered on the bank of 
the Assunpink Creek may be stated as about 5000 effective 
men, although a large proportion of them were almost with- 
out discipline and had yet to learn the first duty of the 
soldier. The old troops were but relics of many regiments 
depleted by long marches and much suffering. The splendid 
Delaware regiment of Colonel Haslet, which had entered 
the service 800 strong, was now reduced to about 100 men. 
General Smallwood's Maryland troops, which had left the 
State with over 1000 rifles, numbered but 150 men fit for 
duty. This gallant organization, which had commanded the 



admiration of Philadelphians, when in July, 1776, they had 
passed through that city, a splendid body of soldiers, had lost 
::50 men at the battle of Long Island, and was now but a 
mere fragment of a regiment. Nevertheless General Knox 
says that e\'en at this time they were " in high spirits," but 
he qualifies the remark with " but in want of rum and cloth- 

It does not appear that up to this time any more cavalry 


had joined the army, but the artiller}' was increased by the 
six guns which had been captured from Colonel Rail's bri- 
gade and another battery of two guns organized in Phila- 
delphia. ^ 

^ This company of Pennsylvania artillery wa.s accompanied by Major 
Thomas Procter, First Lieutenant Hercules Courtney commanding. 


As soon as General Washington had procured definite 
information of the strength and position of the enemy, he 
sent out, under Brigadier-General de Fermoy, a detachment 
consisting of his own brigade, Colonel Edward Hand's Penn- 
sylvania riflemen and Colonel Hausegger's German bat- 
talion, with Colonel Charles Scott's Virginia Continental 
regiment and two guns of Captain Thomas Forrest's battery, 
to harass the enemy in every possible way, and to dispute 
their advance as much as they were able, that the impending 
battle might be postponed for at least twenty-four hours. 
The Americans posted themselves at Five Mile Run, a short 
distance south of the village of Maidenhead, with pickets up 
to the town. The British outpost, as we have stated, was 
at Eight Mile Run, about a mile north of Maidenhead. 
This was the state of affairs on the old Princeton road at 
the close of New Year's day.^ 

During the night it rained heavily, and in the morning 
the roads were in a dreadful condition. According to orders 
the British army, having been divided into three columns, 
commenced the advance from Princeton before daylight on 
the morning of Thursday, January 2, with a detachment of 
British light infantry and Hessian yagers at their head. 
One of these yagers was killed by the American pickets 
while he was attempting to capture Elias Hunt, a farmer in 
that neighborhood. This Hessian was buried in the woods 
on the farm of Colonel Joseph Phillips, opposite the Presby- 
terian Church. Local tradition avers that for many years 
the ghost of the dead man was seen in that wood, and the 
negroes of the neighborhood carefully avoided the place 
after dark. 

First Lieutenant Worsley Fames, Second Lieutenant Charles Turnbull, 
— four officers and forty-eight enlisted men present. First Lieutenant 
Courtney had been detached from Captain Forrest's company, in which 
First Lieutenant Fames took his place. Lieutenant Courtney was soon 
after made captain, and Major Procter was commissioned colonel of the 
Pennsylvania artillery regiment. 
1 For Washington's letter to Congress see Part ii. No. 84. 



About this time the 
commandants of regi- 
ments on the ach'ance 
hnes of the American 
arm\-, finding that Gen- 
eral de Fermoy had re- 
turned to Trenton in a 
very questionable man- 
ner, determined to re- 
sist the advance of the 
king's troops without 
further orders. About 
ten o'clock the first 
alarm gun was fired by 
the American videttes. 
Colonel Hand, with his 
splendid regiment of ri- 
flemen, Captain Henr}- 
Miller of his command 
being in charge of the 
skirmish line, conducted the retreat to Trenton. Every 
place which would even for a few moments give shelter from 
which to take a steady aim was taken advantage of, and 
e\'ery part of the road was disj:)uted in all possible ways. 
On one occasion so stubborn a stand was made by the Amer- 
icans that a check was produced on the British advance. 
They actually fell back and the jDatriots carefull}- pressed 
tow'ard them. At last, howe\'er, the American detachment 
w-as driven to the woods running along the south bank of 
the Shabbakonk Creek, and here a severe skirmish com- 
menced about one o'clock, and a deadly fire was made upon 
the British forces, throwing them into considerable confu- 

For a long time this conflict was maintained with great 
vigor, and the battalions of von Linsingen and Block, a part 
of Colonel von Donop's original command, were actually 
drawn up in order of battle, expecting then and there to 



enter upon the general engagement which they anticipated. 
For fully three houi's the gallant little American force, some- 
what ])riitected by the dense woods, harassed the redcoats 
and continuall)- thinned their ranks with musketry and artil- 
ler\-. Right well did they can-y out the plan of General 
W'ashmgton to consume the entnx- day, if possible, in skir- 
mishing, and so retard the enemy's advance toward Trenton. 
The weather was ver\' mild, the roads were in wretched con- 


dition, and it was difficult for the liritish troops, except those 
in light marching order, to make much progress through 
the hea\"y nnid. 

At the northern part of the town some little earthworks 
had been hastily thrown up at a ravine which led clown to 
the Assunpink Creek, and behind them four guns had been 
placed. Here agam the retreating Americans made another 
post of resistance, and the Virginia troops distinguished 


themselves, as the Pennsylvania riflemen had done for sev- 
eral hours previous. It was now nearly four o'clock in the 
afternoon, and General Washington rode up with General 
Knox to encourage the troops to make as vigorous a defense 
as possible. General Greene also came up with a reinforce- 
ment, and he immediately assumed command of the entire 
force at this point. Captain William Hull of the Seventh 
Connecticut Continental regiment was now in charge of the 

General Washington was well pleased with the all-day 
running fight, and begged the little party not to yield until 
compelled to. A battery of British artillery was soon after 
brought into position and made every effort to dislodge the 
American advance force. Nearly an hour was consumed 
before the patriot band, unable any longer to sustain them- 
selves, began again to yield the ground and retreat down 
the Brunswick road into the village, having captured some 
twenty-five or thirty men during the day. 

In this way the last determined stand beyond the town 
was taken, and as the Americans began to retreat, the ad- 
vance party of the British, about 1500 men, again com- 
menced their march in strong column, the main army being 
still a considerable distance in the rear. The advance en- 
tered Trenton at the head of King and Queen streets, at 
the same place where the guns of Captains Forrest and 
Hamilton had opened fire on Rail's brigade on the previous 
Thursday. On their way down Queen street the fire from 
behind houses was continuous and galling. When they 
reached Tucker's corner, where Queen street is crossed by 
Second street, they first began to receive the shots from 
the batteries of the main American army posted on the high 
ground on the south side of the Assunpink Creek. 

General Washington had drawn up his army in line of 
battle for nearly three miles along the bank of this stream, 
which he called Mill Creek, with the left on the Delaware 
River, and had thrown up a series of small earthworks on 
the ridge and across the road below the Queen street bridge. 



Back of this line of battle he placed a second line consisting 
of his reserve troops. 

General Mercer and his brigade were at Phillips Ford, 
fully two miles above the bridge at Trenton and on the 
extreme right of the army. Below him was General Cad- 
walader's command, stationed in an open field opposite Sam- 
uel Henry's mill, somewhat over a mile from the bridge, 
while General St. Clair's brigade, with the battery of Captain- 
Lieutenant Sargent, was posted on the high bank just east 
of the bridge across the creek. 

The advance guard of Cornwallis's army pressed on down 
Queen street, still driving the Americans slowly before them, 
and killing some, until they arrived at the narrow stone bridge 
which spanned with but one arch the Assunpink Creek. This 
was the same bridge over which a part of Rail's brigade had 
escaped the previous week. 

The commanding officer of the German battalion of Gen- 
eral de Fermoy's brigade, Colonel Nicholas Hausegger, was 
taken prisoner on Queen street before the Americans came 
to the bridge. The capture was made in so suspicious a 
manner that Colonel Hausegger' s devotion to the cause of 
liberty has ever since been doubted. In his " Memoirs," 
Captain Alexander Graydon of Colonel John Shee's bat- 

1 Colonel Trumbull painted this picture in Philadelphia in 1792, and 
it is now in the art gallery of Yale University. The artist says of this 
painting : " I undertook it con aniore (as the commission was unlimited), 
meaning to give his military character in the most sublime moment of 
its exertion, the evening previous to the battle of Princeton, when, view- 
ing the vast superiority of his approaching enemy and the impossibility 
of again crossing the Delaware or retreating down the river, he con- 
ceives the plan of returning by a night march into the country from 
which he had just been driven, thus cutting off the enemy's communica- 
tion and destroying his depot of stores and provisions at Brunswick. I 
told the President my object : he entered into it warmly, and, as the 
work advanced, we talked of the scene, its dangers, its almost despera- 
tion. He looked the scene again and I happily transferred to the can- 
vas the lofty expression of his animated countenance, the high resolve 
to conquer or to perish. The result was, in my own opinion, eminently 
successful and the general was satisfied." 


talion of Pennsylvania militia, who was a prisoner in New 
York city, thus refers to this man : — 

" He was a German, or rather a man of no country or any 
country ; a citizen of the world, a soldier of fortune, and a 
true mercenary. Thinking that our cause was going down 
rapidly, he saw no reason for adhering any longer to it ; but 
came over to the enemy in the season of our extreme adver- 
sity, though he did not reach us until after the affairs at 
Trenton and Princeton. Not liking the name of a deserter, 
he called himself a prisoner, but certainly, if he was one, he 
had much better terms than we had." 

Besides the column of British troops on Queen street, a 
body of men marched down King street in great haste, ex- 
pecting to prevent the passage over the bridge. They opened 
fire along Front street, but failed to prevent the Americans 
crossing the creek. Here the detachment of skirmishers 
which all day long had hovered before and around the enemy, 
hastily, although with difficulty, crowded through the passage 
at the bridge, scarce sixteen feet wide. Colonel Hitchcock's 
New England brigade protected these weary men as they 
filed across the bridge and took their places with the main 
army. General Washington himself was on horseback at one 
end of the bridge, overlooking the scene, and by his personal 
exposure inspired his men with courage and confidence. 

It was then after five o'clock and rapidly growing dark. 
The British line, however, pressed on to the bridge, while 
for about ten minutes the two guns of Captain Moulder's 
battery, of Captain Forrest's four-pounders, and of the naval 
guns in charge of Captain Read, with the musketry of some 
of the infantry ranged on rising ground on either side of the 
bridge, kept rattling into their ranks with uncertain aim. By 
the light made by the firing it could be seen that the advance 
of the king's troops, entirely unaware of the force now before 
them, had pressed on until they were within range of the 
American guns. They made three fruitless efforts to reach 
and cross the bridge, but found further pursuit checked, and 
were unable to endure the concentrated fire. The effect of 


this fire upon them is extremely uncertain and doubtless will 
never be correctly ascertained, as no mention of loss is made 
in any British official reports. It can hardly have been very 
destructive to life, although several statements of eye-wit- 
nesses made the carnage severe, when we take into account 
how small a number of men marching in single column could 
have occupied the space at this point, that this was the ad- 
vance party only, and that the darkness certainly made the 
firing very inaccurate. 

In his interesting work on " The Hessians and the other 
German Auxiliaries of Great Britain in the Revolutionary 
War," Edward J. Lowell gives the Hessian loss during the 
fighting of January 2 as four killed and eleven wounded, 
principally men of Colonel von Donop's brigade. One of 
the soldiers mortally wounded had been the commanding 
officer of the yager picket post on the River road on the 
morning after Christmas, and had escaped early in that fight. 
In one of the phases of the skirmish on the Shabbakonk 
Creek six American riflemen of Hand's regiment jumped out 
from behind a bush, with guns in one hand, and motioned 
and called to the Hessian soldiers, as though about to desert 
to them. Lieutenant Friedrich Wilhelm von Grothausen, 
with some others, although cautioned by Captain Ewald, ran 
out about fifty steps to receive the surrender, when he was 
deliberately shot in the breast. He died a few days after- 
ward in Princeton. 

The loss of the American army was small. No return 
seems to have been made of the casualties. A brief list has 
been compiled. ^ 

1 Private John Goebel, Captain John D. Woelpper's company, Ger- 
man battalion, killed. Private Jacob Bottamer, Captain Peter Boyer's 
company, German battalion, badly wounded. Private George Filsin, 
Captain William Wilson's company, First Pennsylvania Continental 
regiment, severely wounded in left leg. Private Wender Fortney, Ger- 
man battalion, wounded. There is a tradition among the descendants 
of Captain Richard Clough Anderson, Fifth Virginia Continental regi- 
ment, the ofBcer who made the little attack on the Pennington road 
picket at Trenton on Christmas night (p. 121, ante\ that he was also 


By some writers this affair is called " The second battle 
of Trenton ; " by others " The battle of the Assunpink," 
while students of the revolutionary period sometimes allude 
to it as "the cannonade at Trenton." 

General Washington, in his official report, the text of which 
is hereafter given, uses the following language in reference to 
the action of the enemy in the village : " After some skir- 
mishing the head of their column reached Trenton about four 
o'clock, whilst their rear was as far back as Maidenhead. 
They attempted to pass Sampink Creek, which runs through 
Trenton, at different places, but, finding the fords guarded, 
they halted and kindled their fires. We were drawn up on 
the other side of the creek. In this situation we remained 
till dark, cannonading the enemy, and receiving the fire of 
their fieldpieces, which did us little damage." ^ 

While this was taking place. Colonel Hitchcock, with his 
Continental brigade of Cadwalader's division, had taken posi- 
tion in a field on the Bloomsbury farm between the bridge 
and the river, and had thrown up a temporary breastwork. 
It was in time, fortunately, for a determined party, princi- 
pally of Hessians, attempted to cross the creek at a good 
fording-place, probably near where the Warren street bridge 
now is, but the brave New England Continentals sent a rain 
of lead on the attacking party, and they quickly abandoned 
the project. 

At this place on the bank of the creek a clergyman was 
cruelly murdered. The Rev. John Rosbrugh, pastor of 

wounded in this fight. Captain William Moseley, Seventh Virginia 
Continental regiment, wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel B. Webb, 
aide-de-camp to General Washington, wounded. 

1 General Knox wrote to his wife : " The enemy pushed our small 
party through the town with vigour, though not with much loss. Their 
retreat over the bridge was thoroughly secured by the artillery. After 
they had retired over the bridge, they advanced within reach of our 
cannon, who saluted them with great vociferation and some execution." 
Captain Thomas Rodney of Delaware says :" We kept possession of 
the bridge altho' the enemy attempted several times to carry it but were 
repulsed each time with great slaughter." 



the Allen's Township Presbyterian Church, Northampton 
County, Pennsylvania, and chaplain of the Third battalion (jf 
Northampton County militia, had been taking an early sup- 
per at the Blazing Star Tavern kept by P'rancis Witt on the 
corner opposite to Abraham Hunt's store, when the British 
ran quickly down King street. The patriot chaplain, who 
was of ScotchJrish jDarentage, and sixt)--three years of age, 
rushed from the inn on hearing the alarm, but found that his 
horse had alread}' been stolen. He then endeavored to reach 
the American lines at the bridge, trailing in this, he next 
tried the ford, to which we have just alluded, where he was 
caught by a party of Hessians. Here, while praying for his 
captors, he was bay(jneted seventeen times and cut on the 
head with many sabre slashes. His body was stripped of its 
clothing, robbed of watch and gold. The I^ritish officer in 
command of the j^art)' boasted of the deed in the ta\"ern a 
few hours later. General Courtlandt Skinner, who com- 
manded the New Jersey volunteers in the royal army, highly 
applauded the perpetrator of the act. 

It was now nearly six o'clock and cjuite dark, and further 
attempts to cross the creek were abandoned until the main 


body should arrive in the village or until morning should 
enable them to see the force they were expected to vanquish. 

The American artillery, however, still kept up a deter- 
mined fire, throwing shot into the town from the high ground 
on the south side of the creek, which commanded the village. 
This was returned by the British light batteries, although 
without effect. It is said that balls struck the building on 
Ellet Tucker's corner, and that other cannon-shots tore away 
part of the wall of the jail, now the Trenton Bank. This 
cannonade was kept up at intervals during the early part of 
the evening. As General Knox writes, "a few shells we 
now and then chucked into the town to prevent them enjoy- 
ing their new quarters securely." Most of the British, how- 
ever, had withdrawn to the high ground on the Beakes farm, 
at the upper part of the village, out of the range of these 
missiles, although during the evening the streets were 
thronged with crowds of redcoats. 

It will always appear singular that the invaders did not 
attempt to cross the creek at some of the many fording- 
places on the east of the town, such as at Henry's Mill or 
Phillips Ford, the one a mile, the other two miles above the 
mill-dam at the bridge. It was impossible for General 
Washington to protect the whole stream, and had the British 
forced the American right and driven them toward Trenton 
Ferry and the river, nothing could have saved the entire 
army. A determined advance along the line and a half 
hour's fight would have decided the battle. The American 
army would have been well-nigh annihilated, and with it the 
fate of America and the hopes of freemen. 

When General Cornwallis reached the town, he held a 
brief Qonsuhation with his general officers, and Sir William 
Erskine, Baronet, colonel and aide-de-camp to the king, but 
acting as the quartermaster-general of the army in New 
Jersey, suggested that perhaps the " old fox " might escape 
in the night. "If Washington is the general I take him 
to be, his army will not be found there in the morning." 
Major-General Grant agreed with Cornwallis that the Amer- 


icans were without means of retreat. They thought they 
had General Washington's army safe enough ; their troops 
were very weary, and they could without difficulty "bag 
him " on the morrow and capture his whole army. The 
British forces then built their fires, and settled themselves 
for a quiet night, with the expectation of a fight at an early 
hour on the next day. 

Orders were immediately sent out to call the troops at 
Princeton and Maidenhead to join the army at Trenton as 
early as possible on the next morning. General Cornwallis 
failed, however, to send out strong scouting parties that 
night, as he should have done, to ascertain the exact position 
of the foe, and to establish proper picket lines on his exposed 
flank. It was said by Colonel von Donop that he advised 
the commanding general to send a party across the creek 
into the woods on the American right wing to prevent an 
attack being made on the British left flank. Fortunate, 
indeed, for General Washington's subsequent plans that 
Cornwallis did not follow the advice of von Donop. 

Another of those fearful crises in the fate of America had 
arrived, a time similar to the day when the troops of the 
flying camp had abandoned the army at Brunswick ; or to 
those moments of suspense as the night was passing away 
and the day was near at hand while the army was still cross- 
ing the river for the surprise at Trenton ; or that critical 
time but forty-eight hours previous, when the term of service 
of a large part of the Continental line had expired. It was 
now almost impossible to retreat across the river with so 
large and disciplined an army close upon them. To leave 
the bluff of the Assunpink Creek and fall back to Borden- 
town, and so southward toward Philadelphia, would be certain 
annihilation ; to attack the enemy on the morrow and to risk 
the fortune of a battle was but to court defeat from troops 
superior in numbers and better skilled in the art of war ; 
to remain in their earthworks until morning was to invite 
destruction or an early surrender. The American army was 
apparently in a cul-de-sac. 



This was the situation when General Washington called a 
council of war at Alexander Douglass's house/ at that time 
Brigadier-General St. Clair's headc|uarters. Washington had 
been obliged to abandon his own quarters, at the tavern of 
Jonathan Richmond, much nearer to the bridge, because it 
was within the range of the enemy's cannon. At quarter- 
master Douglass's hijuse all his brigade commanders gathered, 
and freely discussed the alternative of attack or retreat : 
whether to fight their troops, many of whom were raw and 


inexperienced, against the powerful column so near them, 
or to fall ra]iidly down the Delaware Ri\-er, and take the 
chances of crossing into Pennsylvania. At last a plan less 
hazardous than flight or battle was suggested : to draw off 

^ On o;round now occupied hv the German Lutheran Church on 
Greene .street. The DougLass house has been removed, and is now 
Xo. 47S Centre street, Trenton. 


the army at midnight, and by a raj^id maixh around the left 
tiank ut the enemy, avoiding the post at Maidenhead held liy 
Cieneral Leslie, strike the British rear-guard at Princeton, 
some twelve miles from the grand army of the enemy, and, 
if possible, attack the post and capture the stores at Bruns- 
wick. This movement, it was thought, would avoid the 

:_>^l/v* - " 


:iimijnli .s 

appearance of retreat, and would not injuriously affect the 
spirits of the troops. 

This flank movement of the American army was a brilliant 
conception of the commander-in-chief. It is stated in some 
histories that it was suggested by General Mercer, while 
other writers have placed it to the credit of General St. 
Clair. Because the council was held in St. Clair's cpiarters 
is no reason for his biographer appropriating the result of 
these dehberations as the fruit of his great forethought and 
military genius. Neither General Mercer nor General St. 
Clair was, it is to be supposed, especially familiar with this 
roundabout route. It is much more reasonable to attribute 
the suggestion to General Dickinson, who was a resident of 



I l'-i~. ENhKAL ART hi: I-; 

Trenton, or to Colonel Joseph ]veed, who was a graduate of 
Princeton Colk-ge and whose birthplace was Trenton. Colo- 
nel Reed, as we have seen, had just performed a brave little 
exploit near I^rinceton, with some men of the Philadelphia 
truop (if light horse, and in going and returning he must 
of necessit)' have jjassed over some jjortion of this very road. 
His report to the commander-in-chief, on whose staff he 
serA-ed, must ha\-e gi\'en General Washington all the neces- 
sary information as to this circuitous route to Princeton. It 
is certain that the gix-at chieftain knew what he was about, 
and did not deliberately juit himself in a trap that day, and 




then despairingly ask his general officers to get hinr out of 
it. Nor can it be supposed that tieneral Washington left it 
until cle\-en o'clock at night before he at least thought of 
what orders he must gi\'e six hours thereafter.^ 

While the council of war, which he had called at 
Douglass house, was still in session, 
there occurred, as Washington said, 
"a pro\'idential change of weather," 
The mildness which had so retarded 
the march of Lord Cornwallis's force 
that day was suddenly succeeded by 
a cold northwest wind which froze 
the ground in a few hours. Here, 
then, was an opportunity to march an 
army over hard roads and move the 
forty guns, which could hardly have 
been accomplished over a muddy 

It is said that during the evening 
Patrick Lamb, who lived near the 
Quaker bridge over the Assunpink 
Creek, and possibly kept the tavern there, Ezekiel Ander- 
son, who Ih-ed in a direct line somewhat more than a mile 
northeast of the bridge (the house is now occupied by Wil- 
liam S. Morris), and Elias Phillips of Maidenhead were 
called into the council room, where, being well accjuainted 

1 This subject I have discussed at some length in a paper entitled 
"The Princeton Surprise," published in The Magazine of Ainerican 
History. August, 1SS2. The opinion there expressed is fully confirmed 
by a letter written by private John Lardner of the Philadelphia troop 
of light horse to Captain John R. C. Smith, then commandant of the 
troop. This letter is dated July 31, 1S24, and is now on file in the 
archives of that organization. It is elsewhere given in full. If privates 
John Lardner, George Campbell and James Caldwell were posted on 
this road near the Quaker bridge on the evening of January i, 1777, to 
give notice of the movements of the British forces, of course Colonel 
Reed, as adjutant-general of the army, was aware of the fact, and knew 
the direction of the road, as did General Washington. (For letter see 
Part ii. No. 89.) 



with the road which General Washington desired to take, 
they were intrusted with the duty of guiding the army. 

As soon as the plan of operations was decided, the order 
was issued, and in the darkness the troops began quietly to 
make ready for the flank movement. On the high ground 
by the creek a number of camp-fires were burning, and these 
were carefully replenished with cedar rails, the neighboring 
fences furnishing the fuel. A strong fatigue party was 
directed to throw up additional earthworks by the old mill 
and to strengthen those at the lower ford, in order, if pos- 
sible, to keep the enemy under the delusion that the men 
were still there preparing for the battle in the morning. The 
noise of the tools, the voices of the fatigue parties, the axe- 
blows, and the throwing up of the frozen earth could be dis- 
tinctly heard by the British pickets only one hundred and 
fifty yards distant. The lines of camp-fires could also be 
seen burning fiercely, the very flame concealing everything 
beyond ; and the guards at the bridge and the upper fords, 
being greatly strengthened, kept pacing to and fro until 
near morning. 

Soon after midnight three of the heaviest pieces of ord- 
nance and all the baggage and stores of the army not spe- 
cially needed were sent to Burlington by way of Bordentown, 
under a strong guard commanded by General Stephen. 
They reached Burlington about noon on January 3. On 
January 8 this wagon-train was ordered to proceed to Mor- 
ristown, and the following day it passed through Trenton, 
reaching Morristown January 12, guarded by detachments 
of the militia of Cumberland and Chester counties, Pennsyl- 
vania, and of New Castle, Delaware. The Philadelphia bat- 
talions of Associators, under a very injudicious order, had 
packed their blankets with their baggage, which for ten days 
caused them much unnecessary suffering. Instructions 
were also sent to General Putnam to co-operate.^ 

At the last moment Washington gave orders to keep up 
the fires until morning, when the fatigue party left in charge 
1 Part ii. No. 86. 


of them, with those at work or on guard at the bridge and 
the fords above and below it, in all about 400 men, should 
push on as quickly as possible to join their marching regi- 

Some of the American officers, who had retired to farm- 
houses somewhat to the rear, to enjoy a much needed rest, 
knew nothing of this movement, and the next day had some 
difficulty in reaching their commands after the battle of 

An advance party, under command of Major Isaac Sher- 
man of Connecticut, of the Twenty-sixth regiment, Conti- 
nental foot, a Massachusetts regiment, led the American 
column, and Brigadier-General Hugh Mercer and his brigade 
followed closely behind them. The main army started for 
Princeton about one o'clock in the morning of January 3 by 
way of the Sand Town road. General St. Clair's brigade, 
with two six-pounders, followed Mercer's command, and 
General Washington and his staff accompanied them. 

With the greatest care and with death-like silence, the 
army moved back by small detachments from the warm fires 
on the banks of the creek. The orders were given in a 
low tone. The rims of the wheels of the gun carriages were 
wrapped in old cloths, that no sound might betray their night 
movement to the British guards. The army passed on the 
left flank of the British, marching by way of the Sand Town 
road, or very near what is now called Hamilton avenue, 
leading out of Trenton as far as Pond Run. From this 
point the route led toward the little village of four or five 
log housed, then called Sand Town. Most accounts of this 
flank movement tell us that the column passed through 
this little village ; the cross-road by which the village was 
avoided having long since been closed up, it is quite natural 
that historians were led into this error. A short distance 
west of what is now known as the residence of the late 
Charles V. Meade, General Washington's army left the Sand 
Town road, and marched over to the crossing on Miry or 
Muddy Run, leaving Sand Town several hundred yards to 


:>UAKER ivIEETING (IL>L^E, .sTmN\ liK(^i.)K 

the right. 1^'or nearly forty years after this cross-road was 
used In' the American army, it was in daily use ; but since 
then, like many other old roads not formally surveyed and 
deeded to the use of the public, it has been closed up by the 
owners of the land.^ 

The road led tlirough heavy woods ; but here and there 
the trees had been cut, and the stumps interfered with 
travel. As John Rowland, one of the soldiers of Captain 
IJa\'id Dexter's company of Colonel Christopher Lippitt's 
Rhode island State )-egiment, in his "Spirit of 1776," says, 
"these trees stopped the mox'ement of some of the guns, and 
caused many a fall and se\'ere biaiise to some of the over- 

■ Mrs. Elizabeth Mui;he.s, now decea.sed, who hved on the Quaker 
bridge road, Mr. William 11. West and Mr. William C. Vannest, aged 
people of the t()wnship, fully x'erily the existence of this road and cer- 
tify to the tradition, common among the people wlien the\- were voung, 
that this cross-road was used by Washington and his army on their 
midnight march to Princeton. 



weary, sleepy soldiers." This road came to an end near 
what is now the mill-pond, and the army then marched on 
in the road leading north from Sand Town to the ( Hiaker 
bridge. The Aluddy Run was crossed just west of the mill 
that now stands on the bank of this stream, and the march 
of the army continued through a large tract of land then 
called " The Barrens," covered with oaks of stunted growth. 
j\Iuch of this land is to-clay in an excellent state <if culti\'a- 
tion. The "Bear Swamp" lay just to the west of "The 
Barrens," and its soil is now \'er)' much what its name im- 
plies. After passing through the wood tract, the I'oad 
merged into the Quaker road, a highway used by the Friends 
in traveling between Crosswicks and Stony Brook Meeting 
House. A short distance be)-ond the junction of the two 
roads, the army crossed Quaker bridge at the same place 
where that bridge now crosses the upper waters of the 
Assunpink Creek, l^eyond this bridge the road was much 



as it is tn-(Ui)", though perhaps not so straight, and over it 
the patriot army marcliecl toward Stony Brook. Wlien they 
at last reached this place, some two miles tVom the village 
of I'rincetnii, it was about da\-]ight, and General Mercer's 
brigade, at that time marching in files, without flankers, 
passed along a stiip of woods near the (j]d Quaker Meeting 
House, still standing, and thence alor^g the upper bank of 


tlie creek toward the Strmy ISrook bridge. It was General 
IMeixer's intention innnediately to seciu'e this stone bridge 
at Worth's (now liruere's) mill, so that if Lord CornwaUis 
pursued them he miglit be detained thei'e for some time. 
General Sulli\"an with three brigades was ordered to take a 
road somewhat to the right and southeast of the woods, that 
the}- might enter Princeton on the east side of the ^-illage, 
b)- a ]jath oi' wood road at that time little used and \-ery 
different from the road of to-day. 

Before dawn on this cold, frosty morning of January 3, 
1777, two regiments of the P'ourth brigade, the Seventeenth 
and the Pdfty-fifth regiments of the ]-5ritish line, refreshed 
bv the slumber of the night and the mornino- meal, left 
Princeton, according to orders given the previous night, to 































■^ -D 


Q- i^ "O 

en — , c 

O ^ t 

Z 5 H- 

z o 

>, « 

Q- o 


unite with General Leslie at Maidenhead, and then push on to 
the main army of Lord Cornwallis. The Fortieth regiment 
of this brigade had been ordered to remain in Princeton to 
guard the stores. The Seventeenth regiment and a part of 
the Fifty-fifth regiment had crossed the Stony Brook bridge, 
and were passing over Millett's Hill, having taken the old 
road to Trenton. The remainder of the, Fifty-fifth regiment 
was following only a short distance behind. 

General Mercer's troops this day consisted virtually of the 
same regiments he had commanded in the streets of Tren- 
ton the week previous, with some of the men of Lord Stir- 
ling's brigade added thereto. His force was about 350 cold, 
hungry and weary men, and it was followed by General 
Cadwalader's brigade of Philadelphia Associators. As they 
came out of the woods and marched quickly toward the 
bridge, they were seen from the hill near Cochran's house 
by Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Mawhood of his majesty's 
Seventeenth regiment of foot, the acting brigade commander. 
Colonel Mawhood rode that day a small brown pony, and two 
favorite spaniels bounded about in front of him. Without 
any idea of the army so near him, after sending out two 
mounted officers to reconnoitre he faced about his own regi- 
ment, somewhat more than 300 men, and, joined by a small 
party of the Fifty-fifth regiment, under Captain John Taylor 
Trevor, and a troop of the Sixteenth regiment of light dra- 
goons, commanded by Captain Thomas Trewren, quickly 
ran down the hill, recrossed the bridge, and made a bold 
dash for an orchard on a piece of rising ground and the pro- 
tection which would be afforded by a hedge fence and some 
farm buildings east of the present turnpike and near William 
Clark's house. 

Seeing this movement) the American advance party under 
General Mercer, who was mounted on horseback, with Colo- 
nel Haslet on foot and his Delaware men on the right, tried 
the same thing. They rushed through a gate into a thick 
orchard, reached the coveted position first, and, finding the 
enemy, in about equal numbers, forming in line of battle with 



two cannon in an open field just outside the orchard, instantly 
discharged a voile)' at them. The firing was Cjuickly returned 
b)' the l-Sritish, who were only about one hundred and twcnt)' 
feet distant, and without a moment's dela)- they jnrshed raj)- 
iilly forward on a charge. Cajitain Daniel Neil of New Jer- 



\ ' 


m j^<^ 



V** , 




-— i 

^ "■" "r''\ ^ ' ■ 

se\', commanding the eastern company of artiller)', brought 
two of his guns into position, and threw some shot into the 
ranks of the enemy's right wing, where it did great execu- 
tion. Still the ba)'onets of the British and their terrible 
charge could not be withstood by the Americans, who had 
only their old rifles and muskets, few of which had the bayo- 
net. It was difficult, indeed, for these men to stand their 


ground against British foot armed with the weapon for close 
quarters, and knowing well how to use it. After firing three 
volleys within five minutes, — and Major Wilkinson says the 
smoke from these discharges rose "in one beautiful cloud," — 
the line of General Mercer's brigade abandoned its position, 
broke and ran in utter confusion. Captain Neil here lost 
his battery and his life. Colonel John Haslet of the Dela- 
ware Continental regiment was mortally wounded, a bullet 
entering his brain. General Mercer had his splendid gray 
horse shot from under him, a bullet injuring its foreleg; but 
although on foot, he immediately endeavored to rally his 
men. This he found impossible to accomplish. 

At this moment General Mercer, standing about fifty yards 
from the barn of Joseph Clark, was struck with the breech 
of a musket, which injured him severely. A surtout over- 
coat concealing his rank, the British thought they had taken 
General Washington, and called out for the "rebel general" 
to surrender. With reckless courage, being somewhat indig- 
nant at being called a rebel, he tried to strike his assailants 
with his sword, but was overwhelmed, beaten down and 
pierced with seven bayonet wounds in his body, in addition 
to the two wounds on his head. Then, as he feigned death, 
the British left him. He fell at the moment of defeat, but 
five minutes later he heard the welcome shout of his victori- 
ous comrades. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Mawhood and his men pursued the 
disorganized brigade to the top of a ridge near William 
Clark's house. Here he espied General Washington, who 
had heard the firing, hurrying up on the left to the aid of 
Mercer's men, with Hitchcock's New England brigade and 
Cadwalader's Philadelphia battalions of Associators, which 
were the troops nearest to the scene of action. 

Just beyond a strip of woods General Washington, who 
up to this time had remained with General St. Clair's bri- 
gade of Sullivan's division, noticed the disorderly rout of 
Mercer's brigade and the eager pursuit by the enemy to the 
crest of the hill. Without a moment's hesitation he exposed 



himself to a terrible fire in tlie very front of his men, and 
urged them to hold their ground steadily. It was a difficult 
task for the new troops, but the New England Continentals 


maintained their position well, and the bra\'e but feeble Colo- 
nel Hitehcock spoke cheering words to the Pennsylvania 
men near him. The commander-in-chief then tried to rally 
Mercer's shattered force once more, and this he effected in 
a measure. The division of General Mifflin now came into 


positirin on the riL;iit "f Cadwaladcr's troops, and an ad\'ance 
was (irdcrcd along the line. Colonel Hand's regiment of 
riflemen also made a demonstration against Mawhood's left, 
and being followed qnickly b}- the brigade of General St. 
Clair, they snceeeded in dri\ingback the J'dfty-frfth regiment, 
whieli was endeax'Oidng to join the small ])Ortion of that regi- 
ment fighting ^\-ith the Seventeenth foot. 

Captain Josejih Aloulder's battery, stationed at the right 
of Thomas Clark's hijuse, now tlie residence of Henrv I{. 
Male, again did good ser\-ice. For some reason the liritisb 
artillery was badly ser\'ed, failing to get the range of this 
new opposing force, and every time firing over their heads. 

;e.\ek.\l .mekcek s sword 

Captain ^.loulder's youthful gunners, however, made every 
shot tell as they mowed down the ranks ni the redcoats. 

The king's troops stopped for a moment in their hot chase 
of the fugiti\"es as they noticed the colimm near them, and 
Cc)lonel Mawhood quickly reformed his men, took post by a 
fence near the farm buildings, and then made a dash fur 
Moulder's batter\-, Captain William Scott of the Seventeenth 
regiment of foot leading the assault. Caj)tain John Fleming, 
commanding the First \'irginia regiment, called out, as he 
tried to get his men into ]"iosition, " Gentlemen, dress the line 
bef(jre }'oa make ready," and the British troopjs replied, with 
curses, "We will dress you." Although Captain Fleming 
received his death wound, the attemijt failed, and, staggered 
by the shower of grapeshot, the hhatish were themselves 
dri\-en back with much slaughter. The coui'age shown by 
the British compelled General Washington's admiration, as 
he noticed how they f(jught. The tire of the Americans was 
so sharp that a general officer, writing fr(.>m Trenton, Janu- 


ary 9,- says that " the British screamed as if so many devils 
had got hold of them." With a shout the Americans pushed 
rapidly forward in order of battle. It was now Colonel Maw- 
hood's turn to retreat. He quickly turned his column, found 
his brigade broken, and fell back, abandoning his guns to the 
patriots, as the troop of the Queen's light horse endeavored 
to cover his retreat. 


The Continental army pursued and routed the enemy 
completely, killing large numbers, taking many prisoners, 
and collecting a large amount of baggage which had been 
dropped in their flight. The greater part of the Seventeenth 
regiment, chased by the Philadelphia troop of light horse, 
fled toward Maidenhead, or went up the brook and across 
the fields in the direction of Pennington, while the Fifty- 
fifth regiment ran back toward Princeton, where the Fortieth 
regiment was stationed. In this fine " fox chase," as Wash- 
ington called it, some fifty English soldiers were captured 
and later carried into Pennsylvania, where they were placed 
in charge of General Lord Stirling. The battle was really 
over ; a fight of scarcely fifteen minutes, but terribly severe 
in its results. 

The sight of the great chieftain placing himself in such 
peril between the two armies at the turning point of the con- 
flict lent new courage to the weary troops, and they promptly 
came up to the work. This voluntary exposure seemed 
dreadful to Washington's gallant aide, Lieutenant-Colonel 
John Fitzgerald, who, expecting every moment to see a bul- 
let pierce the heart of his commander, endeavored to avoid 
the appalling sight. A moment later the shout which greeted 
Washington's brave act, the heavy firing and the eager ad- 
vance of the men startled the worried aide-de-camp, and he 
looked up but to see the general coming forth uninjured 
from the smoke of battle and to hear himself calmly addressed 
in an order, "Bring up the troops. Colonel Fitzgerald; the 
day is our own 1 " 

An officer of the Continental line, writing from Morristown 
a few days after this gallant but hazardous exploit, used these 
words, " Our army love the general very much, but they have 

I I 




one thing; ag;ainst him, which is the Httle care he takes of 
himself in any action." ^ 

Immediately after the iight General Washington dis- 
patched a strong detachment, under Major John Kelly of 
Colonel James Potter's battalion of Northumberland County, 
Pennsylvania, militia, to break down the Stony Brook bridge, 
in order to delay the advance of the British army. 

In the fog of the early morning of January 3 Lord Corn- 
wallis was suddenly aroused to receive the unpleasant in- 
formation that the entire American army had stolen away 
from the bank of the Assunpink Creek. Bitterly did he 
lament the way in which he had been so completely out- 
generaled by the American chieftain, and he was over- 

1 The diary (now in mv posses.sion) of Tliomas Olden, wlio lived in 
the house now the lodge of Drumthwacket, states that (General Wash- 
ington, riding up to his door, directed several of the wounded Ijritish 
regulars to be cared for by his family. The diary also says that twenty 
wounded men Avere carried into William Clark's house, and several 
more, with the gallant Mercer, to Thomas Clark's house. At least si.xty 
wounded soldiers were placed in wagons and taken into the village of 


whelmed with mortification at the loss of what appeared to 
him an opportunity of destroying the rebel horde. 

The camp-fires were still smouldering, but the foe had dis- 
appeared by the very mode suggested at the council of waf 
the night before. Lord Cornwallis thought of the seventy 
thousand pounds in the money-chest and the great amount 


of Stores at Brunswick, and he quickly divined General Wash- 
ington's intention. Hastily forming his troops, he commenced 
a forced march toward Princeton, hurrying on, as General 
Knox writes, " in a most infernal sweat — running, puffing 
and blowing and swearing at being so outwitted." About 
eight o'clock he heard the booming of the guns before him, 
and General Sir William Erskine quickly interpreted the 
meaning of those reports of distant artillery, as they reached 
his ear on that sharp winter morning. 

It was the advance guard of this army, that part of the 
rear-guard of the previous day, under General Leslie's com- 
mand, which, looking down from a hill a short distance to 
the south, saw the Americans under Major Kelly demolish- 
ing the Stony Brook bridge. Already they had made such 
progress that it would have been impossible for the army 
to have crossed over it. The redcoats were ordered to ford 



the stream, which they quickly did, and with icy clothes 
pressed on toward Princeton. The gallant major, who had 
tarried too long in destroying the bridge, tell from a broken 
log into the stream, but, although covered with wet and 
frozen clothing, he yet secured an armed scout of the 
British army, and brought him safel)' into the American 

While these events were taking place, the P'ifty-fifth regi- 
ment, joining the Fortieth regiment, which had mustered on 
the college grounds, endeavt)red to hold a position on the 

' S 3 3 5 ■? B I S 
« J SJL^ 8 T S I B 

9 i* H fT S 1 1^ n a H 

8 5 

8 » H 5 a 1 5 S 8 J*3 J B 
S jj a S B 1 9 8 S S a M B 

444!^ S_R_SJ iJ^ijLt4fil9JLl ILUlILl^^ -^ h.all .at the <if the IJ.\TTL£ 

north side of a ravine just (jn the outskirts of the village, on 
what was then Richard Stockton's farm. Up to this time 
the Fortieth regiment had taken no part in the engagement, 
as they were not included in the marching order for Trenton, 
although they had been apprised of the conflict at the Stony 
Brook bridge by a messenger from Colonel Mawhood. Before 


these two regiments had fully arranged themselves in order 
of battle, the right wing of the Americans, General Sullivan 
in command, with the brigade of Colonel Sargent in the ad- 
vance, dashed fiercely upon them, and soon scattered them. 
A part of the Fortieth regiment still remained in their stone 
barracks within the walls of Nassau Hall. Captain Hamil- 
ton's light battery was then run up on the campus, and a 
warning six-pound shot was sent into the building. Tradi- 
tion says the ball entered the front of the chapel, now the 
Geological Museum, and singular to relate passed through 
the head of the portrait of King George the Second. The 
frame of this picture is still in the college museum, and now 
contains a portrait of Washington, painted by the elder Peale, 
by order of the authorities of the college. The battery must 
have fired a second time, as Major James Wilkinson says in 
his "Memoirs" that a ball struck the college building, and 
rebounding nearly killed the horse on which he was riding. 
The impression made by this shot is still to be seen on the 
walls of Old Nassau. 

A party of Americans commanded by Captain James 
Moore of the First regiment, Middlesex County, New Jersey, 
militia, then entered the college, which by this time was 
surrounded with troops ; and the British therein, 194 in 
number, including several wounded dragoons, quickly gave 
themselves up prisoners of war. 

The remainder of the Fifty-fifth and Fortieth regiments, 
about 200 in number, finding that they were beaten at 
every point and that further resistance was useless, as the 
Americans were closely pursuing them, abandoning two six- 
pounders, all the horses thereto being killed, and the axle 
broken of one of the carriages, retreated northward by the 
king's highway, or, as General Howe reported, "retired by 
way of Hillsborough to Brunswick," and there joined the 
Forty-sixth British regiment in quarters. On the way thither 
about fifty more of the British were captured by the victo- 
rious Americans. 

The vanguard of Lord Cornwallis's army was pressing 



into one end of the village about noon as the left of General 
Washington's column passed northward out of sight of 
Princeton. The redcoats were destined to have still another 
check to their eager march. An iron thirty-two-pounder had 


been mounted on the arrow-head-shaped earthworks, which 
Colonel von Donop's men had thrown up, on ground lately 
owned by the Reverend Dr. John Miller. This gun General 
Washington could not carry away for want of horses ; and as 
the British column approached, some straggling soldier fired 
it off. This halted the advance for some time until they 
could throw out their skirmishers and ascertain the number 
and disposition of the opposing force. A full hour was 
lost by this movement, and when after reconnoitring they 
reached the earthworks, they found the place deserted. By 
that time General Washington was far away with the tro- 
phies of his second victory. 


The loss of the American army in this battle was about 
forty killed and wounded, including several valuable officers. 
Besides the mortal wounds received by Brigadier-General 
Hugh Mercer and the deaths on the battlefield of Colonel 
John Haslet,! Captain John Fleming and Captain Daniel 
Neil, we may add the names of Captain William Shippin, 
Lieutenant Bartholomew Yeates and Ensign Anthony Mor- 
ris, Jr., — seven officers killed. Second Lieutenant John 
Read, Fourth regiment, Virginia Continental line, was se- 
verely wounded, and died January 25, 1777.^ 

The British loss in the battle of Princeton was about 400 
kihed, wounded and prisoners, one fourth of whom were 
left dead upon the field. Fourteen officers and 216 men in 
arms, with some dismounted troopers and stragglers from 
various regiments, fell into the hands of the Americans. 
Among the officers captured was Lieutenant Ernst Friedrich 
Wilhelm von Donop of the Hessian yagers, adjutant of Colo- 
nel von Donop's corps. He was found sick in Princeton. 
Captain Robert Mostyn and Lieutenant Frederick Desagu- 

1 For biographical sketches of these ofEcers see Part ii. No. 97. 

2 But few records can be given of the casualties among the en- 
listed men of the American army. This much is known : Sergeant 
George Buyer, First Pennsylvania regiment, wounded in the shoulder. 
Sergeant Michael Welsh, of Captain Harman Stout's company, Tenth 
Pennsylvania regiment, severely wounded in the left knee. Private 
Anthony Dache, Philadelphia battalion of Associators, wounded in the 
thigh. Private Benjamin Schlaugh, First Pennsylvania regiment, badly 
wounded and leg amputated. Private John Downs, Philadelphia bat- 
talion of Associators, wounded in the leg. Private Patrick Lusk of 
Captain John Murray's company, Colonel Samuel Miles, Pennsylvania 
rifle regiment, wounded, in'the right wrist. Private Isaiah Beaumont, 
Twentieth regiment. Continental foot, Colonel John Durkee, wounded 
in arm. 

Major John Armstrong, aide-de-camp to General Mercer, wounded ; 
Major WilUam Smith Livingston, aide-de-camp to General Greene, 
wounded ; Major Lewis Morris, Jr., aide-de-camp to General Sullivan, 
wounded; Second Lieutenant John Read, Fourth Virginia Continental 
regiment, wounded, and died January 25, 1777 ; First Lieutenant Dudley 
Tyler, Sixth Massachusetts Continental regiment, wounded. 



liers were killed and Captain John IMcPherson and Captain 
the Hon. William Leslie fatally wounded. ^ 

General Howe sent the following report of the battle to 
Lord George Germain, colonial secretary of state : " — 

New York January 5 1777 
Mv Lord : 

fn consequence of the advantage gained by the enemy at 
Trenton on the 26th of last month and the necessity of an 


alteration in the cantonments, Lord Cornwallis deferring 
his going to England by this opportunity, went from thence 
to Jersey on the ist inst. and reached Prince Town that 
night, to which place General Grant had advanced with a 
body of troops from Brunswick and Hillsborough, upon 

1 For biographical slcetches of these officers see Part ii. No. 98. 

2 For return of casualties see Part ii. No. 99. 




gaining intelligence that the enemy on receiving reinforce- 
ments from Virginia, Maryland and from the Militia of 
Pennsylvania had repassed the Delaware into Jersey. On 
the 2d Lord Cornwallis having received accounts of the 
rebel arm)' being posted at Trenton, advanced thither, leav- 
ing the 4th brigade under the command of Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel Mawhood at Prince Town and the 2d brigade with Brig- 
adier-General Leslie at Maidenhead. On the approach of 
the Piitish troops the enemy's forward posts were drawn 
back upon their army, which was formed in a strong position, 
behind a creek running through Trenton. During the night 
of the 2d the enemy quitted this situation and marching up 
by Allen's Town and from thence to Prince Town fell in on 
the morning of the 3d with the 17th and 55th Regiments on 
their march to join Brigadier-General Leslie at Maidenhead. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Mawhood not being apprehensive of the 
enemy's strength, attacked and beat back the troops that 
first presented themsel\-es to him, but finding them at length 



very superior to him in numbers lie pushed forward with the 
17th Regiment and joined Brigadier-General Lcshe. The 
55th Regiment retired by the way of Hillsborough to Bruns- 
wick and the enemy proceeding immediately to Prince Town, 
the 40th Regulars also retired to Brunswick. The loss on 
this occasion to his Majesty's troops is seventeen killed and 
nearly two hundred wounded and missing. Captain Leslie 
of the i/th was among the few killed and for further particu- 
lars I beg leave to refer your Lordship to the enclosed re- 
turn. Captain Phillips of the 35th Grenadiers, returning 
from hence to join his Company was on this day beset, be- 
tween Brunswick and Prince Town by some lurking villains 
who murdered him in a most barbarous manner, which is a 
mode of war the enemy seem, from several late instances to 
have adopted with a degree of barbarity that savages could 
not exceed. It has not yet come to my knowledge how 
much the enemy has suffered, but it is certain there were 










] ' 




' ^H 

1 ,.,mfi^i 









^WMII,l,l illljill^j 







^^^^^^^^^■^j/^S^'' '.''"^ ■'■ 





many killed and wounded and among the former a General 
Mercer from Virginia. The bravery and conduct of Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Mawhood and the behaviour of the regiments 
under his command, particularly the 17th are highly com- 
mended by Lord CornwaUis. His Lordship finding the 
enemy had made this movement and having heard the fire 
made by Colonel Mawhood's attack, returned immediately 
from Trenton ; but the enemy being some hours march in 
front, and keeping this advantage by an immediate departure 
from Prince Town, retreated by King's Town, breaking down 
the bridge behind them and crossed the Millstone River 
at a bridge under Rocky Hill, to throw themselves into a 
strong country. Lord CornwaUis seeing it would not an- 
swer any purpose to continue his pursuit, returned with his 
whole force to Brunswick and the troops upon the right 
being assembled at Elizabeth Town. Major General Vaughn 
held that command. 

I have the honour to be &c. 

W. Howe. 

General Howe also issued a general order commending 
Lieutenant-Colonel Mawhood and his command.^ 

General Mercer, suffering intensely with the cold and 
his terrible wounds, was carried off the field of battle by his 
aide, Major John Armstrong, formerly attached to the staff 
of Major-General Gates. He was taken to Thomas Clark's 
house, which is still standing, and the Quakeress Sarah Clark, 
her sister Hannah Clark and a faithful negro woman care- 
fully attended to poor General Mercer. Dr. Moses Scott, 
at this time surgeon of the Second regiment, Middlesex 
County, New Jersey, militia, afterward hospital physician and 
surgeon Continental army, had examined General Mercer's 
wounds as he lay upon the field. After being conveyed to 
the house referred to, the noise of the British as they crossed 
at Stony Brook reached his ears, and he peremptorily or- 
dered the reluctant Armstrong, the son of his old commander 
^ Part ii. No. 100. 


in the Indian campaigns, to leave him and follow the patriot 
army, which needed the services of every man. When the 
British came into the house, they gave Mercer his parole and 
left him. Soon after two good neighbors, Thomas Olden 
and Samuel Worth, came in to assist the Quaker family in 
taking care of the wounded general. On the 4th of Janu- 
ary General Washington, hearing that he was still alive, 
and not killed as reported, sent under flag of truce Dr. Rush 
and Captain George Lewis, who commanded a detachment 
of light horse at his own headquarters, with a communication 
to Lord Cornwallis asking permission for them to remain 
and attend to Mercer. It was granted, and January 7 the 
doctor reported him much better, saying that he expected 
his speedy recovery. A surgeon on Lord Cornwallis's staff 
agreed that he did not think the wounds dangerous, but Gen- 
eral Mercer, who was by profession a physician, called the 
attention of Captain Lewis to a bayonet wound, the smallest 
one, under his right arm, which he said would surely cause 
his death. And so it resulted. His wounds must have bled 
profusely, for the blood passed through the bed and stained 
the floor, where the marks can be seen even to this day. 
He lingered on in much pain until the morning of Sunday, 
January 12, and then expired in the arms of his devoted 
companion. Captain Lewis. His remains were taken to Phil- 
adelphia and buried in Christ Churchyard January 16, 1777. 
The funeral was attended by " The Council of Safety, Mem- 
bers of Assembly, Gentlemen' of the Army and a number of 
the most respectable inhabitants of the City." On Novem- 
ber 26, 1840, he was reint erred in Laurel Hill Cemetery, 
Philadelphia, with military honors.^ 

As General Washington passed out of Princeton, he ex- 
pressed his gratification to Colonel Daniel Hitchcock at the 
noble conduct of himself and his brigade. Colonel Hitch- 
cock had behaved most gallantly in this his last effort for 
the cause of his country. Educated at Yale College, grad- 
uating in the Class of 1761, receiving his degree of Master 
1 For notes on General Mercer, see Part ii. No. loi. 


of Arts from both Yale College and Brown University in 
1 77 1, he was " an accomplished gentleman " and a " fine offi- 
cer," as his soldiers said, as well as a true born son of liberty. 
He went into the army with the first Rhode Island contin- 
gent, called "the army of observation," at the beginning of 
the war, and at this time was acting as a brigadier-general 
of what was familiarly known as the New England brigade. 
Speaking of the affair at the Assunpink bridge at Trenton 
and the battle of Princeton, the celebrated Dr. Benjamin Rush 
wrote to Richard Henry Lee, the Virginia statesman, January 
6, 1777 : " Much credit is due to a brigade of New England 
men commanded by Col. Hitchcock in both actions ; they 
sustained a heavy fire from musketry and artillery for a long 
time without moving ; they are entitled to a great share of 
the honour acquired by our arms at Princetown." The good 
sword of Colonel Hitchcock won him great honor, and his 
disposition made him beloved by his soldiers, and admired by 
all who knew him. He was a fine scholar, of refined taste 
and elegant manners, in fact, a finished gentleman. Con- 
sumption was even then rapidly bringing his life to a close, 
and when he reached Morristown he was called upon to die. 
On January 10, 1777, he made a brief nuncupative will, the 
full text of which is given in Cowell's "Spirit of 1776 in 
Rhode Island." He died January 13, and was buried with 
military honors on the afternoon of the 14th of January in 
the churchyard of the Presbyterian Church, Reverend Dr. 
Timothy Johnes, at Morristown, — ground which became the 
last resting-place of many patriots. 

In addition to the prisoners taken by the American army 
at the battle of Princeton, they also secured two brass six- 
pounders, a large amount of ammunition, a quantity of mili- 
tary stores, and some clothing and camp equipage loaded in 
wagons. A large amount of forage which had been gathered 
there by the British army was destroyed because the victors 
could not transport it. General Miffiin also recaptured some 
seven wagon-loads of stores which the British had plundered 
from the citizens of Princeton and were endeavoring to carry 
off with them. 



After remaining in Princeton about two hours and douig 
full justice to the breakfast prepared for the officers of the 
Fortieth regiment, at their headquarters, Tusculum, the resi- 
dence of President Witherspoon, and after paroling fifty-six 


wounded and sick British soldiers whom he was obliged to 
lea\'e there, General Washington followed after the two regi- 
ments of flying redcoats until they passed the village of 
Kingston, Captain Moulder's battery covering the rear of the 
patriot army. Captain Moulder was instructed to fire at the 
advance guard of the British army, if necessary, until the last 
moment, then spike his guns and run rapidly to join the main 


army. His men obeyed the first part of the order, but when 
the critical moment arrived, instead of leaving the cannon 
which had done such good service that day, they pulled them 
away with them with the aid of ropes. A troop of British 
cavalry followed them some distance, but were checked in 
their pursuit by seeing Captain Morris's Philadelphia troop of 
light horse forming on the road to cover the retreat of the 
gunners and to sustain the expected attack. The British 
thereupon faced about and returned to Lord Cornwalhs's 

General Washington ordered the destruction of the bridge 
over the Millstone Creek, which was immediately accom- 
plished. Without dismounting he then held a council of 
war with his general officers as to their future movements. 
Some advised marching toward Coryell's Ferry, and recross- 
ing the Delaware River. It was soon very prudently decided, 
however, that they should abandon the prize at Brunswick, 
and, turning short to the left by Rocky Hill, march by 
Somerset Court House and Pluckemin toward Morristown. 

For two nights and a day they had had no sleep, and many 
of them had carried their arms without intermission for nearly 
forty hours on the march and in battle. To forego, then, 
the capture of Brunswick was unfortunate ; but when they 
reflected that Lord Cornwallis had troops which had enjoyed 
rest at Maidenhead and Trenton the previous night, while 
many of the Americans were constantly falling asleep by the 
roadside, regardless of the proximity of the enemy or of the 
intense cold, and that the longed-for military chest was full 
eighteen miles away, they concluded that it was dangerous to 
venture the loss of their prisoners and trophies by attempt- 
ing a task in which they might possibly fail. General Wash- 
ington declared that if he had had but 800 fresh troops, he 
could have made a forced march, destroyed their stores and 
magazines, taken their money-chest, and possibly have put 
an end to the war.i 

About eleven o'clock in the evening the last of the army 
^ For Washington's OfBcial Report to Congress see Part ii. No. 102, 



arrived at Somerset Court House, now Millstone, Somerset 
County, placed their prisoners in the county jail, and quickly 
disposed themselves for the night, some of the men actually 
sleeping on the frozen ground, without a blanket, in the field 
on which the manse of the Ref(jrmed Church of Rfillstone 
now stands. General Washington and his staff were quar- 
tered at the house of John Van Doren, some little distance 
south of the town. This house is still standing. 

The British general was too an.xiijus as to the fate of 
Brunswick and the line of communication with New York to 
follow General Washington and his army far into the hill 
country ; and not knowing whether the American genei'al had 
sent a force to capture his stores, he pushed rapidl)' forward 
on the king's highway, paying no attention to the weary 
American army. 

In this condition of affairs a striking event occurred be- 
tween a number of British soldiers and a ca\'alry detachment 
of the New Jersey State troops. The affair, as related in 


a recent work,^ a book full of stirring revolutionary facts, is 
historically correct. 

" Another interesting incident was the arrival in camp of 
the gallant Captain John Stryker's troop of Somerset horse, 
laden with spoils from the enemy. Cornwallis in his hurried 
march toward New Brunswick was so unfortunate as to dis- 
able a number of his baggage-wagons. He left them at the 
side of the road in charge of a quartermaster with a guard of 
two hundred men. Captain Stryker, though having with 
him but twenty troopers, resolved upon the capture of these 
stores. In the darkness of night he distributed his small 
force in a circle, completely surrounding the camp. The 
guard were suddenly astounded by a volley of musket-shots 
and the whistling of bullets, while from under the black arches 
of the bordering trees came loud and repeated shouts as if 
from a countless host. Demoralized by recent defeats the 
men incontinently fled, thinking that they had been attacked 
by a large force of the Americans. Their fright was not so 
much caused by the roar of musketry as by the unearthly 
yells of the lusty troopers which so suddenly broke the still- 
ness of the night. Captain Stryker was not long in so repair- 
ing the wagons that they could be hauled to a place of safety ; 
he lost no time in making his way to Washington's camp 
with his treasures. The joy of the troops was unbounded 
when it was discovered that the wagons contained woolen 
clothing, of which the men stood in sore need." 

The patriotic bard of the revolutionary period, Philip Fre- 
nau, said of this hasty march of the British army with its 
Hessian allies : — 

" From dire Cesarae ! forced, these slaves of Kings 
Quick, let them take their way on eagle's wings ; 
To thy strong posts, Manhattan's isle, repair, 
To meet the vengeance that awaits them there ! " 

' The Story of an Old Farm, or Life in New fersey in the Eight- 
eenth Century, by Andrew D. Mellick, Jr., Somerville, New Jersey,, 
1889, p. 387. 


Lord Cornwallis reached Brunswick about six o'clock 
in the morning of January 4, and found the post command- 
ant, Brigadier-General Edward Mathew, greatly excited. 
General Mathew had with him the First and Second battal- 
ions of the British guards, and the Forty-sixth regiment of 
British foot, which had reached him only the previous day. 
During the night of January 3, soldiers had come in with 
exaggerated reports of the fight, a sick captain of the Forty- 
ninth regiment having been the first to communicate the 
unwelcome intelligence. The captive American General 
Charles Lee had been already dispatched across the Raritan 
River, and General Mathew had gathered up his supplies in 
readiness for a retreat, preparing to make only such a de- 
fense as would enable him to escape with the army treasure. 

General Washington and his army left Somerset Court 
House on January 4, and, marching over the hills, halted for 
two days at Pluckemin,^ in order to rest his men and to 
allow nearly 1000 weary stragglers to overtake them. On 
January 6 he left Pluckemin and marched into the highlands 
of Morris County. He established the headquarters of the 
army, January 7, 1777, at Morristown, in the old Freeman 
Tavern on the northwest side of the public square, then kept 
by Captain Jacob Arnold. The troops, after a few days 
spent in tents on the slopes of the Lowantica valley, built 
substantial huts for their use during the rest of the winter 
about a quarter of a mile south of what is now Madison, 
then called Bottle Hill, on the main road to Morristown. 
Securely protected in this cantonment, the recruiting and 
reorganizing of the army for the spring campaign began, 
under the powers which had been conferred upon General 
^ See Washington to Putnam, Part ii. No. 103. 


Washington by the Continental Congress. The army re- 
mained there until May 28, 1777. 

Horace Walpole wrote to Sir Horace Mann concerning 
this march from Trenton to Morristown : " Washington the 
dictator has shown himself both a Fabius and a Camillas. 
His march through our lines is allowed to have been a pro- 
digy of generalship." 

This closed the winter campaign of I'/'jS-iy'/y. Philadel- 
phia had been saved the ravages of the Hessian hordes, and 
the Hessians themselves had been compelled to march as 
captives through its streets ; the British had been driven out 
of the State, except at the posts of Brunswick and Amboy, 
and an army complete in all its appointments had been com- 
pelled to assume the defensive. In the most gloomy period 
of the war the great commander by " two lucky strokes " 
had saved the cause of the Revolution. This was the " Good 
news from the Jerseys " which animated every patriot in the 

Let us seek a solution to the question how soon Colonels 
Rail and von Donop would have placed their troops on the 
west bank of the Delaware River had General Washington 
abandoned the project of crossing the river on Christmas 
night. As has been said, the weather changed on the night 
of January 2, 1777, and became intensely cold. This cold 
continued, for we are told that the men marching toward 
Morristown on January 4 and 5 suffered greatly from it. 
We quote the following from the diary of Margaret Morris 
of Burlington: "January 9th, weather very cold, the river 
filled with ice and we expect it will be strong enough to 
walk over in a day or two." "January nth weather very 
cold and the river quite shut." "January 15th the hearse 
with General Mercer's body was conveyed over the river on 
the ice." It is clear, then, that if General Washington had 
postponed crossing over the river in boats for just seventeen 
days, the Hessian troops would have walked over on the 
"bridge of ice," for which they had waited, and a few hours 
thereafter the city of Philadelphia would have been in the 

i \ 


possession and subject to the pillage of the German merce- 
nary troops. A delay of less than three weeks by General 
Washington, in order to reanimate his demoralized force, 
would have endangered the fate of the union of the States. 

The effect upon the people of New Jersey and indeed 
upon the entire nation can hardly be described. To have 
taken a demoralized, retreating and well-nigh disbanded army 
and to have crossed and recrossed a large river four times 
in wintry weather, performed such brilliant and daring ex- 
ploits and inflicted a succession of such effective blows 
upon a splendid army seemed well-nigh incredible. The 
entire winter campaign had exhibited great generalship in the 
commander-in-chief and had proved that he possessed such 
a knowledge of military science that he was able promptly 
to foresee the exact moment when the stroke must fall, 
and to risk everything in the stern exigency. The friends 
of the young republic in and out of Congress took new 
heart and made vigorous efforts to strengthen the power of 
the great commander. The New Jersey militia, which for 
three months had been to some extent subdued by the pre- 
sence and power of the king's troops, now seemed imbued 
with new vigor, and began rapidly to enroll and fit them- 
selves for the soldier's life and duties. For the rest of the 
winter the militia collected information and tracked out 
foraging detachments of British and captured them. The 
cruelty and violence of the Hessian hirelings aroused a desire 
for revenge, and few opportunities were lost when the foe 
left their well-guarded stations. The tide of war, formerly 
so strongly against the patriot cause, now began to turn, and 
with the ebb carried away from New Jersey soil the defeated 
royal army of Great Britain. The people, heretofore panic- 
stricken, were now convinced that the dreaded Hessians 
and the British redcoats could be vanquished by their own 
untrained but determined soldiers. They believed a f\nal 
victory was near at hand, and that these successes were the 
dawn of a bright morning for the young republic. They 
were persuaded the great generals whose military genius and 


experience had been highly lauded could be outgeneraled 
by their Washington and could be beaten in detail by the 
division of the young New Hampshire attorney, the battal- 
ions of the Rhode Island blacksmith, or the guns directed 
by the bookseller of Boston. 

Never was Washington more popular than at this moment 
of victory. The coniidence of the ofificers who gathered 
around him, and whom he had learned to appreciate as com- 
panions in a common danger, was strengthened. The whole 
country looked to him as the sure champion of a free gov- 
ernment. He felt strong enough to demand that those 
" who had accepted the British protection should withdraw 
within the enemy's lines or take the oath of allegiance to 
the United States of America." ^ 

Washington's own opinion of his success can be best de- 
scribed in the vigorous order sent Major-General Benjamin 
Lincoln, at Peekskill on the Hudson, and dated January 7, 
1777: "Move down your troops towards New York, draw 
the attention of the enemy to that quarter, and if they do 
not throw a considerable body back again, you may in all 
probability carry the city, or at least blockade them in it. I 
have only to beg of you to be as expeditious as possible in 
moving forward, for the sooner a panic-struck enemy is fol- 
lowed the better. If we can oblige them to evacuate Jersey 
we must drive them to the utmost distress." ^ 

The late Dr. Benson J. Lossing, in his sketch of Wash- 
ington's mother, says : " When the cheering news of the 
victories of Trenton and Princeton reached Fredericksburg, 
several of her friends congratulated her upon the brilliant 
achievements of her son. She simply replied, ' George seems 
to have deserved well of his country ; ' and when some of 
them read paragraphs of letters they had received, in which 
the skill and bravery of Washington were applauded, she 
said, ' Gentlemen, here is too much flattery ; still, George 

' Part ii. No. 113. 

2 For other comments on the battle of Princeton, see Part ii. Nos. 
104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, no, III, 112, 114, 115, 116. 


will not forget the lessons I have taught him — he will not 
forget himself, though he is an object of so much praise.' " 

True it is that that period of trial, those long days of disas- 
ter and retreat, those hours of acute suffering as the forlorn, 
dejected troops fled from the great harbor on the seaboard 
to the bank of the icy river, were but lessons given to the 
despondent patriots by Him who was so soon to nerve their 
hearts to noble exploits, to steady their eye along the old 
firelocks, and strengthen the arm that held the bayonet, that 
in the end they might give utterance to the shouts of well- 
earned victory. 

Surely nowhere in the life struggle of any nation can be 
shown such a rapid contrast from almost total defeat to 
brilliant victory as appears in this simple compilation of 
facts which has come down to us bearing the unmistakable 
marks of truth through the century of our existence as a 
nation — the retreat through the Jerseys, and the battles of 
Trenton and Princeton, or what has been well called, " those 
wonderful days in New Jersey." 


No. I. American Army in the Campaign, 1776-1777. 
Brigadier-General Lord Stirling's Brigade (lOOO officers and men). 

Colonel George Weedon's Third regiment, Virginia Continental 

Colonel John Haslet's Delaware regiment, Continental infantry. 
Colonel Isaac Reade's First regiment, Virginia Continental 

Major Ennion Williams's First Pennsylvania rifle regiment. 

Brigadier-General Adam Stephen^ s Brigade {600 officers and meii). 

Colonel Thomas Elliott's Fourth regiment, Virginia Continental 

Colonel Charles Scott's Fifth regiment, Virginia Continental in- 

Colonel Mordecai Buckner's Sixth regiment, Virginia Continental 

Colonel Edward Hand's Brigade (600 officers and men). 

Colonel Edward Hand's First regiment. Continental foot — Penn- 
sylvania rifle regiment. 

Colonel Henry Haller's Berks County militia, Pennsylvania flying 

Colonel James Cunningham's Lancaster County militia, Penn- 
sylvania flying camp. 

Brigadier-Getieral James Swing's Brigade (600 officers and men). 

Colonel William Montgomery's regiment, Pennsylvania militia, 
flying camp. 

Colonel Frederick Watts's regiment, Pennsylvania militia, flying 

Colonel Richard McAllister's regiment, Pennsylvania militia, fly- 
ing camp. 


Colonel Jacob Klotz's regiment, Pennsylvania militia, flying camp. 
Colonel James Moore's regiment, Pennsylvania militia, flying 

Brigadier-General A^athaniel Heard's Brigade (800 officers and me/i). 

Colonel Philip Van Cortland's regiment. New Jersey militia. 
Colonel David Forman's regiment, New Jersey militia. 
Colonel Ephraim Martin's regiment. New Jersey militia. 
Colonel Joseph Phillips's regiment, New Jersey militia. 
Colonel Silas Newcomb's regiment. New Jersey militia. 

Brigadier-General Rezin Beall's Brigade {1200 officers and meji). 

Colonel Charles G. Griffith's First battalion, Maryland militia, 
flying camp. 

Colonel Josiah C. Hall's Second battalion, Maryland militia, fly- 
ing camp. 

Colonel Thomas Ewing's Third battalion, Maryland militia, flying 

Colonel William Richardson's Fourth battalion, Maryland militia, 
flying camp. 

Captain Sebastian Bauman's New York company of Continental 

Captain-Lieutenant Winthrop Sargent's Massachusetts company 
of Continental artillery. 

Captain Alexander Hamilton's New York State company of artil- 

Detachment of Colonel Elisha Sheldon's Second regiment light 

Brigadier- General Hugh Mercer's Brigade (joo officers and meti)} 

Colonel John Durkee's Twentieth regiment. Continental foot — 

Colonel Philip Burr Bradley's battalion, Connecticut State troops. 

Colonel Israel Hutchinson's Twenty-seventh regiment, Conti- 
nental foot — Massachusetts. 

Lieutenant- Colonel Francis Ware's First Maryland regiment. Con- 
tinental infantry. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant Moses Rawlins, Maryland rifle 
battalion volunteers. 
1 On the march he was also joined, as has been said, by this brigade. 

No. 2. \\'ashington's Orders. 


Brunswig, December ist, 1776 
Sir: — 

You are to proceed to the two ferries near Trenton and to see 
all the boats there put in the best order, with a sufficiency of oars 
and poles and at the same time to collect all the additional boats 
you can from both above and below and have them brought to 
these Ferries and secured for the purpose of camping over the 
Troops and Baggage in the most expeditious manner ; and for 
this purpose you will get every assistance in the power of the 
Quarter Master General and any person in his department. You 
will particularly attend to the Durham Boats which are very 
proper for this purpose. The Baggage of the army should be got 
over the river as soon as possible and put in some convenient 
place a little back of it. 

I am, Sir, Y'r most ob't serv't 

Go. Washington, 


Headquarters, Falls of Delaware, nth December 1776 
Sir: — 

From the movements of the enemy downwards, I think it highly 
necessary that the Post at Dunk's Ferry should be guarded. I 
therefore desire that one of the Battalions of your Brigade may 
immediately march and take post at that place. If it is agreeable 
to you, I would choose the 3d Battalion under the command of 
Lt-Colonel Nixon. The other two Battalions should be under 
orders to march at a moments warning. I expect the pleasure of 
your company at dinner, but if you cannot come, as soon after as 

I am Sir, Yo. most Obt. Svt. 

Go. Washington. 
Col. Cadwalader 

Endorsed thereon was the following instruction: "The Bat- 
talion that goes down should be provided with two field pieces, 
with artillerymen and ammunition in proportion." 




You are to post your Brigade at and near Bristol. Colonel 
Nixon's Regiment to continue where it is at Dunk's Ferry — but 
if you find from reconnoitering the ground, or from any move- 
ments of the enemy, that any other disposition is necessary, 
you '11 make it accordingly without waiting to hear from me, but 
to acquaint me with the alterations and the reasons for it as soon 
as possible. You 'I establish the necessary guards and throw up 
some little Redoubts at Dunk's Ferry and the different passes in 
the Nesh amine. 

Pay particular attention to Dunk's Ferry, as its' not improbable 
something may be attempted there. Spare no pains or expense 
to get intelligence of the enemy's motions and intentions. Any 
promises made, or sums advanced, shall be fully complied with 
and discharged. Keep proper Patrols going from guard to guard. 
Every piece of intelligence you obtain worthy notice, send it for- 
ward by express. If the enemy attempt a landing on this side, 
you '1 give them all the opposition in your power. Should they 
land between Trenton Falls and Bordentown Ferry or any where 
above Bristol, and you find your force quite unequal to their force 
give them what opposition you can at Neshamine ferry and fords. 
In a word you are to give them all the opposition you can with- 
out hazzarding the loss of your Brigade. Keep a good guard 
over such boats as are not scuttled or rendered unfit for use. 
Keep a good lookout for spies, and endeavor to magnify your 
number as much as possible. Let the troops always have three 
days' provisions cookt before hand. Indeavor to keep your 
Troops as much together as possible, night and day, that they 
may be ever in readiness to march upon the shortest notice. 
You '1 consult with the Commodore of the Gallics, and indeavor 
to form such an arrangement as will most effectually guard the 
river. To your discretion and prudence I submit any further 
regulations and recommend the greatest degree of vigilence. 

If you should find yourself unable to defend the passes of the 
Neshamine, or the enemy should rout you from your post, you 
are to repair to the strong ground, near Germantown, unless you 
have orders from me or some other general officer to the con- 


Be particularly attentive to the roads and vessels and suffer no 
person to pass over to the Jerseys without a permit. 

Given at Head Quarters, Trenton Falls the 12th day of Decem- 
ber, 1776. 

Go. Washington. 

to colonel ewing. 
Sir : — 

Your brigade is to guard the river Delaware from the ferry 
opposite to Bordentown till you come within two miles or there- 
abouts of Yardley's Mill to which General Dickinson's command 
will extend. 

About one hundred or a hundred and fifty men will, I should 
think be sufficient at the post opposite to Borden Town. The 
principal part of your force should be as convenient as possible 
to the fort above Hoop's Mill in order that if a passage should 
be attempted at that place you may give the earliest and most 
spirited opposition ; the success of which depending upon good 
intelligence and the vigilance of your guards and sentries will 
induce you to use every means in your power to procure the first 
and every endeavor to enforce and encourage the latter. 

Between Borden Town and the mill and from the mill to the 
extent of your line above you are to have intermediate guards 
and sentries who are to be as attentive as possible in discovering 
and informing you of every movement of the enemy, constant 
patrols are also to pass. In a word so much depends upon watch- 
fulness that you cannot possibly be too much upon your guard. 

As the fort from the Jersey shore leads on to the upper end of 
the island adjoining the mill you are to throw up a breast-work 
for musketry near the landing-place and secure your communica- 
tion with it. Besides this work another on the height on this 
side for a field piece or two should be erected. Be particularly 
careful of your field-pieces and do not suffer them to be left if 
their is a possibility of avoiding it. 

You are, as I before said to give every possible opposition to 
the enemy particularly at crossing the river ; but if you should be 
overpowered and obliged to retreat join that part of the troops 
under my immediate command, or the other under Colonel Cad- 
walader ; in the latter case the best stand possible is to be made 
at Neshamine Ferry bridge and fords ; but if you are unable to 
hold these then seize the strong grounds in the neighborhood of 


German Town unless you receive orders to the contrary from me 
or some other your superior officer. 

Spare no pains nor cost to gain information of the enemy's 
movements and designs. Whatever sums you pay to obtain this 
end I will cheerfully refund. Every piece of information worthy 
of communication transmit to me without loss of time. A part 
of Colonel Hart's battalion I have ordered to join your brigade. 
Keep your troops always supplied with three day's provisions and 
prevent them from straggling that they may be ready at a mo- 
ment's warning to oppose the enemy in their passage of the river. 
Be particularly attentive to the boats and other vessels and sufEer 
no person to pass over to the Jersey shore without a permit. 

Given at Head Quarters at Trenton Falls this 12 th day of De- 
cember 1776. 

Go. Washington. 

to gexeral dickinson. 
Sir: — 

You will post your troops at Yardley's Ferry or somewhere near 
it. Find out the fording place there and have a redoubt thrown 
up immediately. You and General Ewing must divide the ground 
between Trenton Falls and your post, and establish the proper 
guards and patroles to watch the enemy's motions. You will 
spare no pains or expense to obtain intelligence. All promises 
made or moneys advanced shall be fully complied with and dis- 
charged. Every piece of intelligence worthy notice you obtain 
forward it to me by express. See the troops always have three 
days' provisions cooked beforehand and keep them together as 
much as possible night and day that they may be in readiness in 
the shortest notice to make head against the enemy. Should 
they attempt to land on this side you will give them all the op- 
position in your power. Should you be routed from your post 
you are to repair to the strong grounds at German-Town unless 
you can possibly join the upper or lower division of the Army 
which if practicable you are to do. Be particularly attentive to 
the boats and other vessels and sufEer no person to pass over to 
the Jersey shore without a permit. 

Given at Head-Quarters at Trenton Falls this 12th day of De- 
cember 1776. 

Go. Washington. 


No. 3. Proclamation of the Howes. 
By Richard Howe of the Kingdom of Ireland and William 
Howe, Esq., General of his Majesty's Forces in America, the 
King's Commissioners for restoring peace to his Majesty's Col- 
onies and Plantations in North America, &c. 


Whereas, by our Declarations of the 14th of July and igth of 
September last, in pursuance of his Majesty's most gracious in- 
tentions towards his subjects in the Colonies or Provinces of New 
Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island, Connecticut, New 
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the three lower counties on 
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina 
and Georgia, all persons speedily returning to their just allegiance 
were promised a free and general pardon and were invited to 
accept not only the blessings of peace, but a secure enjoyment of 
their liberties and properties, upon the true principles of the Con- 
stitution : And, whereas, notwithstanding the said declaration, 
and the example of many who have availed themselves of the 
assurances therein made, several bodies of armed men, in open 
contempt of his Majesty's proffered clemency, do still continue 
their opposition to the establishment of legal government and 
peace : and divers other ill-disposed persons pursuing their own 
ambitious purposes in the exercise of a lawless influence and 
power, are using fresh endeavours, by various arts and misrepre- 
sentations, to alienate the confidence and affection of his Ma- 
jesty's subjects : to defeat every plan of reconciliation, and to 
prolong the unnatural war between Great Britain and her Col- 
onies : Now, in order to the more effectual accomplishment of 
his Majesty's most gracious intentions, and the speedy restora- 
tion of the publick tranquillity : and duly considering the expe- 
diency of limiting the time within which such pardon as afore- 
said shall be granted, and of specifying the terms upon which 
only the same shall and may be obtained : We do, in his Majes- 
ty's name, and by virtue of the powers committed to us, hereby 
charge and command all persons whatsoever, who are assembled 
together in arms against his Majesty's government, to disband 
themselves and return to their dwellings, there to remain in a 


peaceable and quiet manner : and we also charge and command 
all such other persons as are assembled together under the name 
of General or Provincial Congresses, Committees, Conventions, 
or other associations, by whatever name or names known and 
distinguished, or who, under the colour of any authority from any 
such Congress, Committee, Convention and other association, 
take upon themselves to issue or execute any orders for levying 
money, raising troops, fitting out armed ships and vessels, im- 
prisoning, or otherwise molesting his Majesty's subjects, to desist 
and cease from all such treasonable actings and doings, and to 
relinquish all such usurped power and authority, so that peace 
may be restored, a speedy remission of past offences quiet the 
apprehensions of the guilty, and all the inhabitants of the said 
Colonies be enabled to reap the benefit of his Majesty's paternal 
goodness in the preservation of their property, the restoration of 
their commerce and the security of their most valuable rights, 
under the just and moderate authority of the Crown and Parlia- 
ment of Great Britain : And we do hereby declare, and make 
known to all men, that every person who within sixty days from 
the day of the date hereof, sliall appear before the Governour, or 
Lieutenant Governour, or Commander-in-Chief, in any of his 
Majesty's Colonies or Provinces aforesaid, or before the General 
or Commanding Officer of his Majesty's forces in America or any 
other officer in his Majesty's service having the command of any 
detachment or parties of his Majesty's forces there, or before the 
Admiral or Commander-in-Chief of his Majesty's fleets, or any 
other officer commanding any of his Majesty's ships of war, or 
any armed vessel in his Majesty's service, within any of the ports, 
havens, creeks, or upon the coasts of America, and shall claim 
the benefit of this Proclamation, and at the same time testify his 
obedience to the laws, by subscribing a declaration in the words 
following : " I, A. B. do promise and declare, that I will remain 
in a peaceable obedience to his Majesty, and will not take up 
arms, nor encourage others to take up arms, in opposition to his 
authority " shall and may obtain a full and free pardon of all 
treasons and misprisions of treasons, by him heretofore committed 
or done, and of all forfeitures, attainders, and penalties for the 
same : and upon producing to us, or to either of us, a certificate 
of such his appearance and declaration, shall and may have and 


receive such pardon made and passed to him in due form. Given 
at New York, this thirtieth day of November, 1776. 

W. Howe 
By command of their Excellencies : 

Henry Strachey. 

No. 4. Hessian Field Officers. 

Grenadier Regiment Rail. 

Colonel, Johann Gottlieb Rail. 
Lieutenant-Colonel, Balthasar Brethauer. 
Major, Johann Jost Matthaus. 

Fusilier Regiment von Lossberg 

(sometimes called Alt von Lossberg; called after Lieuten ant- 
General Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Lossberg). 

Lieutenant-Colonel, Francis Scheffer. 
Major, Ludwig August von Hanstein. 

Fusilier Regiment von Knyphausen 

(called after Lieutenant-General Wilhelm von Knyphausen, com- 
mander of the Second division of the Landgraflich Hessischen 
corps in America). 

Major, Friedrich Ludwig von Dechow. 

Lieutenant Friedrich Fischer commanded the six-gun battery of 

artillery, two guns being assigned to each regiment, and 
Lieutenant Friedrich Wilhelm von Grothausen commanded the 

detachment of Hessian yagers. 

No. 5. General Howe to Colonel von Donop. 

Head Quarters Trenton 13th Dec. 1776. 
Sir: — 

You are to command the troops to be cantoned at Trenton, 
Bordentown and Burlington to report and receive Orders from 
Major-General Grant at Brunswick and to communicate with 
Brigadier-General Leslie at Princetown. 

The Brigade of Railee, fifty yagers and twenty Dragoons to be 
stationed at Trenton with six hessian three pounders. The Dra- 
goons to be relieved once a week from Princetown. 


Three Battalions of hessian Grenadiers and a Detachment of 
Yagers, with six hessian three pounders and if you please two 
British eighteen pounders, to take post at Bordentown. 

A Bat. of hess. Gren and 42 d Regt. with two hessian three 
pounders and four british eighteen pounders, with two six and 
two three pounders, to form the Garrison of Burlington ; you 
will fix such other posts as shall appear to be necessary to secure 
the communication of your cantonment. 

Order the Farmers to give the exact Lists of their Cattle, Grain 
and forage, out of which you will please to form magazines for 
subsisting the Troops, for which Capt. Gamble Assistant De. Qr. 
master General will give receipts, who is to remain under your 
orders during the winter and whatever is expended will be paid 
by the Commissary-General, who will of course take care that the 
Issues do not exceed the Rations allowed to the Troops. The 
Troops to supply themselves with Firewood and candles for 
which they will receive an allowance from the Barrackmaster 
General, who will in like manner make an allowance for Barrack- 
Utensils if they are not delivered. Axes, Wedges and Cross Cut 
Saws shal be sent from Brunswick. 

Any quantity of Salt provision or flour, exceeding what may be 
thought necessary for the use of a private family is to be consid- 
ered as a Rebel Store, be seized for the Crown and issued to the 
Troops as a saving to the public. 

Rum and salt shall be sent immediately for the Troops under 
your command, but if a quantity of both or of either can be found 
in your Neighborhood, acquaint Major-General Grant of it im- 
mediately to save the trouble and expense of Carriage. 

Be so good as to reduce the Number of your officers horses as 
much as you can, and dismiss as many of the Waggons, belong- 
ing to the different Regiments as possible. 

You can secure Waggons in the country in case of a March 
and can hire them occasionally when you have use for them by 
giving receipts for the number of days they are employed for 
which the farmer will be paid by the Quartermaster General. 

W. Howe. 



Trenton, 14th day of December 1776. 
Sir: — 

As I have the honour to receive my brother's brigade under 
my orders in going into winterquarters, I send you herewith the 
orders received from the commanding general with the request 
that you publish them to your brigade and cause them to be 

I. Good order must prevail at all the quarters. Fire and lights 
must be carefully looked after, because all consequences result- 
ant therefrom would be of great loss to the force. 

II. Immediately after going into quarters an exact list must be 
sent me at Bordentown, where my quarters will be during the 
winter, what amount of rations each regiment needs every day, 
also what the artillery needs and how long the present supply 
will last. My brother should know that the Commanding-Gen- 
eral desires all officers to dispense with all horses not absolutely 
needed and that passes must be furnished to all owners or their 
servants who supply waggons for baggage. 

III. The Commanding-General requires of me a report every 
fourteen days of everything in my command, so my brother will 
see that I have a report from him of all his officers according to 
the usual form every fourteen days. The rest of the military 
plans so far as relate to the safety of the post I leave to my bro- 
ther's own judgment. I will come here in a few days and look at 
the position and make arrangements according to our views of 
the subject. Meanwhile I beg my brother to guard the two 
bridges over the creeks on the left bank of his position one called 
the Creek bridge and the other the Crosswicks draw bridge by 
which our communications with each other will be kept up. 


• No. 7. Colonel von Donop to General Leslie. 

Bordentown i6th day December 1776 
Sir : — 

In accordance with the orders of His Excellency, the General- 
in-Chief I am instructed to communicate with you from time to 
time. You know without doubt already that I have been assigned 
to Trenton, Bordentown and Burlington for winter quarters, with 


that of Colonel Rail and the 42d British Regiment. On the 14th 
inst. I commenced the march to this place leaving the brigade of 
Rail with twenty dragoons and fifty yagers at Trenton. I made 
a post at Bordentown with the two batteries of von Linsingen 
and von Minnigerode, pushing the 42d Regiment with the bat- 
talion of von Block on to Black Horse. I am waiting with im- 
patience the arrival of the Grenadier Battalion Koehler which will 
bring with them six eighteen pounders, after which I will take 
possession of Burlington, where there are according to reports 
eight or ten gondolas. We will see what resistance they will make 
to our heavy artillery. Two boats had anchored on the river two 
miles above me. I have taken the two six pounders of the 42d 
regiment and I was constructing two batteries to place them in 
when the boats hastily left their anchorage last evening. Some 
one informed me yesterday that a party of rebels were behind me 
pillaging the loyalists and not being able to pass Black Horse they 
marched to Mount Holly and Moorestown to join General Put- 
nam, who must be between Hoppin's and Cooper's Creek with 
3000 men. I sent out a detachment of 100 men who will push on 
to Mount Holly to find out the truth of all reports and to recon- 
noitre the country on that side. The bearer of this letter is one 
of my Quarter Masters whom I send to New York with some 
wagons and to get money and clothing for my men. I beg you, 
Sir, to furnish an escort to New Brunswick. 

I have the honor to be. Sir, Yours etc. 

To General Leslie, Princeton. 

P. S. The patrol above mentioned has just returned not hav- 
ing seen anything of the enemy. Near the bridge between Mount 
Holly and Moorestown they found a quantity of cannon ball, iron 
etc., which they threw into the water. According to the opinion 
of the inhabitants. General Putnam must be at Cooper's Creek 
with 4000 men and must be busy in transporting stores. You 
know better than I if the news is true that Wasrfiington has 
crossed the Delaware at Vessel's Ferry with a large corps to join 
the corps of Lee. 


No. 8. Colonel von Donop to General Grant. 

BoRDENTOWN, 1 6th of Dec. 1776. 
Sir : 

Hearing that the heavy artillery is coming I have posted my- 
self here with the battalions von Linsingen and von Minnige- 
rode, having ordered the 4.26. Regiment and the von Block 
Battalion to Black Horse and its neighborhood. From there the 
chasseurs will make a patrol to Mount Holly and Burlington. It 
will soon appear what resistance these marauders will make when 
the six heavy pieces of artillery are discharged at them, for they 
will destroy all before them. For this purpose I have had the 
regiment of Colonel Sterling and the battalion von Block to make 
eight hundred fascines and I will send them along with the artil- 
lery so that I can construct a battery in one night. Two vessels 
have gone up above me and have anchored a little less than two 
miles above here. I am now engaged in making two batteries 
here from which to attack them. For this work I have taken the 
two six pounders of Lieutenant Colonel Sterling's regiment until 
two eighteen pounders arrive to take their place. People have 
warned me that there is a rebel party of 300 mounted men wan- 
dering around here and pillaging the tories and, because they 
cannot pass Black Horse, they will return by Mount Holly and 
Moorestown, passing between Hoppin's and Cooper's Creeks 
where General Putnam is said to have placed an effective force 
of 3000 men. I will detach today to oppose them 200 men with 
a few horse which will push toward Mount Holly and get the 
exact truth of this report. They will reconnoitre the country on 
this side. I am not very well and but for that I would go myself. 
Yesterday Major Nichols of the enemy brought here two English 
officers to exchange for those Captain Sims had taken to Bristol. 
The Major will be led back today to Burlington by an officer and 
a mounted man. He is a good looking man, and very enthusi- 
astic for their cause. He pleased me very much in what he said 
about the arrival of our other Hessian troops and he appeared 
greatly disturbed and curious concerning our operations this 
winter. He seemed more desirous for permanent public good 
than for immediate peace. Colonel Rail according to his report 
has made some changes in his post, which in my opinion are wise 


and I will go tomorrow to see his plans. Mr. Kemble ' seems to 
be a well bred man and takes all possible trouble to carry out 
the orders of the General-in-Chief and I hope that all others who 
are under my command will do the same for me. I pray you to 
commend me to his good graces. 

And to believe me, with much esteem, Sir, 

Your most humble and most ob't ser't, 

C. DoNOP. 

P. S. As the houses here are built very poorly and as the 
greater part of the inhabitants have carried away their beds it 
will be necessary for the men to lie on straw beds upon the 
ground, otherwise they will perish with the cold. 

No. 9. Extract from a Letter to a Gentleman in Con- 

(Dated Headquarters Trenton Falls, December 12, 1776.) 

My last to you was by Captain • , of the 5th instant from 

Trenton. I was then in hopes my next would have acquainted 
you we were advancing on the enemy. My reason for presuming 
this was a speedy arrival of General Lee with his division of the 
Array. Our enemy knowing how far he was in the rear, and our 
weak situation, made a forced march to come up with us, and 
were within two miles of Princetown, when Lord Stirling began 
his retreat with two brigades. Boats from every quarter were 
collected, and our stores, together with the troops remaining at 
Trenton, were immediately conveyed over the Delaware. On 
Sunday morning having everything over we crossed the Dela- 
ware and took our quarters about half a mile from the river. 
About eleven o'clock the enemy came marching down with all the 
pomp of war, in great expectation of getting boats and immedi- 
ately pursuing ; but of this we took proper care by destroying 
every boat, shallop &c we could lay our hands on. They made 
forced marches up and down the river in pursuit of boats but in 
vain. This is Thursday ; the enemy are much scattered, some 
in Trenton directly opposite from that on their left to Borden- 
town and Burlington on the river banks. The enemy are at least 
twelve thousand strong, determined for Philadelphia for which 

1 Major Samuel Kemble, deputy adjutant-general of General Howe. 


purpose they are transporting flat-bottom boats from Brunswick 
to Trenton by land. 

No. 10. Colonel Joseph Reed to General Washington. 

December I2, 1776. 
Dear Sir — 

The gentlemen of the Light Horse who went into the Jerseys 
have returned safe. They proceeded into the country 'till they 
met an intelligent person directly from Trenton, who informed 
them that General Howe was then with the main body of his 
army : that the flying army, consisting of the Light Infantry and 
grenadiers, under Lord Cornwallis, still lay at Pennytown and 
there was no appearance of a movement. That they are certainly 
waiting for boats from Brunswick ; that he believed they would 
attempt a landing in more places than one ; that their artillery 
park has thirty pieces of cannon — all field pieces. They are 
collecting horses from all parts of the country. Some move- 
ment was intended yesterday morning but laid aside ; but what 
it was and why they did not proceed he does not know. I sent 
off a person to Trenton yesterday morning with directions to 
return by Pennytown. I told him to go to . . . and get what 
intelligence he could from him. He is not yet returned. I 
expect him every moment. I charged him to let . . . know that, 
if he would watch their motions and could inform us of the time 
and place of their proposed landing, he should receive a large 
reward for which I would be answerable. I cannot but think 
their landing will be between this and Trenton, for three rea- 
sons : 

I St. That Lord Cornwallis with that part of the army which he 
will lead keeps at Pennytown within four miles of the river. 

2nd. They will by that means avoid the ferry at Shamony, and 
the fords which, at this season of the year, must be disagreeable 
to the troops. 

3rd. They will derive much more assistance from the country 
which is but too favourable to them. 

4th. They know our principal artillery is near Trenton and the 
passage through the woods to Bristol must be unfavourable to 
them. On the road above they will find all clear and the dis- 
tance nearly the same. 

The river is not and I believe cannot be sufificiently guarded. 


We must depend upon intelligence of their motions ; to obtain 
which no expense must be spared. If it were possible to fix 
signals answering to their different movements that would be 
most speedy and effectual. The militia are crossing over in 
parties. I fear they do not mean to return. I do not know by 
whose orders, but if their Colonels have power to give permission 
in a little time there will be none left. I do not like the condi- 
tion of things at and above Coryell's Ferry ; the officers are quite 
new and seem to have little sense of the necessity of vigilance. 
I shall wait a little to see my man return and then unless 
your Excellency think my stay here of service, I will return to 
Headquarters. I enclose you a proclamation which I got from 
the other side. I suppose it is one of the same kind General 
Dickinson saw. Mr. Moylan desires me to mention to your 
Excellency the propriety of his meeting General Lee to inform 
him of the state of things and wishes to know your plan by the 
return of the Light Horse. 

I am in haste, most respectfully Dear Sir, 

Your obedient humble servant, 

Jos Reed. 

No. II. Colonel Cadwalader to Council of Safety, 1776. 

Headquarters, Trenton Ferry, Bucks County 
8th Deer 1776. 


His Excely General Washington desires me to request that you 
will immediately dispatch a Party of men from Philad* to cut 
down & destroy the two Bridges on the Burlington Road, one on 
Pensawkin & the other on Cooper's Creek — as he is apprehen- 
sive the Enemy intend to pass to Philad^ by that Rout. Let me 
beg of you in my own name that you will alarm the whole Coun- 
try, South and West, nothing but their assistance can save us ! 
I am Gent, with great respect Your most ob' h'ble Serv' 

John Cadwalader. 

No. 12. Colonel Rall to Colonel von Donop. 


I send this patrol in order to see what is going on in the neigh- 
borhood of Bordentown, and I will send another patrol to Maid- 
enhead. The filing of yesterday was intended by the enemy to 


cover the landing of about thirty rebels who were bold enough to 
venture to a landing near a house where I had a sergeant and six 
men. These they forced to withdraw. I cannot understand the 
object of the enemy in making this crossing but I sent a com- 
mand of thirty men there and they had gone. I reinforced the 
picket with six men and placed them under the protection of an 
officer and thirty men who will remain. A sergeant and six men 
who have charge of cattle I sent this morning with forty oxen to 
Bordentown. My regimental quarter masters are ready to go to 
New York and are waiting for those of my brother's brigade. 
There arrived yesterday an officer with twenty horses for the 
Dragoon Regiment Burgoyne. A patrol of them consisting of 
six men was sent to Pennytown but have not returned. I have 
information that a dragoon mortally wounded lies at a place ten 
miles from here and I have sent a surgeon to him. 

Trenton the 17th December 1776 
10 o'clock in the morning. 

No. 13. Colonel von Donop to General Grant. 

Bordentown, December 18, 1776. 
Sir : 

I have this moment received your letter of the ly* instant. 
Since I had the honour to advise you that there were 4000 of the 
enemy at Cooper's Creek the best report I can obtain reduces 
the number to 500. I do not care to take the trouble to march 
with all my force for these gentlemen will not wait for me. I 
believe however that it would be a good thing to establish a post 
at Mount Holly and to push on from there, and place a guard at 
the bridge between that place and Moorestown. From thence 
we could send out patrols to Rancocas Creek and then with 
troops around Busseltown. I could send patrols to Burlington. 
You will see by the map which I send you that I will then be 
able to get information of the enemy on both my flanks and at 
the same time deprive them of the plan of making a descent from 
Rancocas Creek. There is another report concerning the rebels 
which I get from Mr. Smith, and a messenger just from the Gen- 
eral-in-Chief reports the same thing from Philadelphia.. This 
man informs me that they are hard at work fortifying the city 
but a man residing there has assured me that from the way they 


are doing it tlie work will not be finished in two years. Yester- 
day he passed Cooper's Creek where there are two battalions, 
one of which was marching toward Haddonfield and the other 
stationed there had destroyed the bridge over the creek. At 
this place on the i6th instant Captain Loray ^ of my chasseurs 
claims to have thrown into the water a quantity of cannon balls. 
There is more news from Colonel Sterling which reached me 
yesterday. I have also the honor to send you a letter which I 
took from Captain Henry ■* a rebel officer. Lieutenant Dela- 
hunty ^ is quartered in a house in the country two miles from 
here because his wife is sick. I cannot tell you then, my Gen- 
eral, what he has been able to find out but as he will pass here 
to-morrow I will find out everything. I have just sent back the 
above mentioned rebel officer, he assuring me that he will leave 
the army as soon as we get in possession of Philadelphia and 
not serve again with the troops of Pennsylvania. I believe you 
have judged correctly of the movements of the enemy at Vessel's 
Ferry, but the six dragoons, of whom five have returned met 100 
rebels, who while retreating fired rapidly on them, killed a horse, 
and wounded a dragoon. Colonel Rail expects to make a search 
for them today with a detachment of yagers and dragoons. You 
will oblige me, my General, to give me from time to time some 
of the information you receive. 

I have the honor to be. Sir, Your obt. ser't. 


N. B. The messenger who brought me the news from Phila- 
delphia, which I had the honor to send you has told me that he 
was sent by order of General Howe to take a letter to a resident 
of Philadelphia. This resident had requested him to receive his 
reply by word of mouth, that he would do everything in his power 
to organize a fleet of war vessels in the Delaware river. The 
messenger also states that he had been promised a gratuitous 
gift of a commission. I desire to know from you how much 

1 Captain Friedrich Heinrich von Loray of Lieutenant-Colonel von 
Wurmb's battalion of Hessian chasseurs. 

2 Probably Captain John Henry of the Lancaster County, Pennsyl- 
vania, militia. 

3 Lieutenant Laurence DeLahunty of the Hessian garrison regi- 


ought to be given him. Also, you will oblige me, General, to let 
me know if I may send some men into the country to give me 
the news of the enemy and if I will be repaid the money which I 
will be obliged to give them. There are two of them on their 
way to Cooper's Creek and Gloucester from whom I expect news 
today or tomorrow. 

No. 14. Colonel Rall to Colonel von Donop. 

Trenton, the i8th of December 1776. 
Sir : 

This morning at daybreak another party of rebels made a 
landing at the same place as they did the clay before yesterday. 
The yagers fired upon the boats and after a cannonade from the 
enemy on the other side of the river they withdrew. I sent sev- 
eral detachments there but they had gone. I received informa- 
tion just now that a party of rebels had crossed four miles above 
here at Howell's ferry. I have sent a patrol of twelve yagers 
and two dragoons there to ascertain the facts. My light dra- 
goons which I thought lost, returned yesterday, having left one 
man behind mortally wounded. They reported that they came 
across a party of rebels about one hundred strong, who opened 
on them a terrific fire. I have sent this morning a patrol with a 
wagon to Pennington to bring in the wounded man if possible. 


No. 15. General Washington to Major-General Lee. 

The following intercepted letter from General Washington to 
Major-General Lee was found among the German records at 
Marburg, Germany : — 

Brunswick, 30th of November, 1776. 
My Dear General : 

The movements of the enemy are, since I wrote you from New- 
ark, of such a nature as things stand at present, sincerel)' to be 
wished for. I have feared that they would take Newark, Eliza- 
beth Town and Amboy for their winter quarters in order to under- 
take from these places early in the spring an attack on Philadel- 
phia and at the same time having a favourable season ahead that 
they would make a diversion on the Delaware river with their fleet. 
The advantages they have gained over us in the past have made 


them so proud and sure of success that they are determined to 
go to Philadelphia this winter. I have positive information that 
this is a fact and because the term of service of the light troops 
of Jersey and Maryland are ended they anticipate the weakness 
of our army. Should they now really risk this undertaking then 
there is a great probability that they will pay dearly for it for I 
shall continue to retreat before them so as to lull them into 

I am with the greatest respect, my dear General, 
your obedient servant 

Go. Washington. 

No. 16. General Howe to Lord Germain. 

Extract of a letter from General Sir William Howe to Lord 
George Germain, dated New York, December 20, 1776 : — 

In Jersey, upon the approach of the van of Lord Cornwallis's 
corps to Brunswick by a forced march, on the ist instant, the 
enemy went off most precipitately to Princetown ; and had they 
not prevented the passage of the Rariton, by breaking a part of 
Brunswick bridge, so great was the confusion among them, that 
their army must have inevitably been cut to pieces. 

My first design extending no further than to get and keep pos- 
session of East-Jersey, Lord Cornwallis had orders not to advance 
beyond Brunswick, which occasioned him to discontinue his pur- 
suit ; but finding the advantages that might be gained by pushing 
on to the Delaware, and the possibility of getting to Philadelphia, 
the communication leading to Brunswick was reinforced, and on 
the 6th I joined his Lordship with the 4th brigade of British 
under the command of Major-general Grant. On the 7th Lord 
Cornwallis's corps, the guards excepted, who were left at Bruns- 
wick, marched to Princetown, which the enemy had quitted on 
the same day. This corps marched in two divisions on the 8th, 
the first advancing to Trenton reached the Delaware soon after 
the enemy's rear guard had crossed. Their main army having 
passed the preceding day and night, took post on the other side 
of the river. 

Lord Cornwallis, with the rear division, halted at Maidenhead, 
six miles from Trenton, and marched next morning at one o'clock 
to Corriel's Ferry, thirteen miles higher up the Delaware, in some 
expectation of finding boats there, and in ^he neighborhood, suf- 


ficient to pass the river ; but in this he was disappointed, the 
enemy having taken the precaution to destroy or to secure on the 
south side, all the boats that could possibly be employed for this 

The passage of the Delaware being thus rendered impracti- 
cable, his Lordship took post at Pennington, in which place and 
Trenton the two divisions remained until the 14th, when the 
■weather having become too severe to keep the field, and the win- 
ter cantonments being arranged, the troops marched from both 
places to their respective stations. The chain, I own, is rather 
too extensive, but I was induced to occupy Burlington to cover 
the county of Monmouth, in which there are many loyal inhabit- 
ants, and trusting to the almost general submission of the country 
to the southward of this chain, and to the strength of the corps 
placed in the advance posts, I conclude the troops will be in per- 
fect security. Lord Cornwallis having desired to return to Britain, 
the command in Jersey is given to Major-general Grant, in whose 
approved good conduct I place the greatest confidence. 

I cannot too much commend Lord Cornwallis's good services 
during this campaign, and particularly the ability and conduct he 
displayed in the pursuit of the enemy from Fort Lee to Trenton, 
a distance exceeding eighty miles, in which he was well supported 
by the ardour of his corps, who chearfully quitted their tents and 
heavy baggage, as impediments to their march. 

By pressing the rebels so close, they had not time to destroy 
the country, as they intended, or to remove their stores, by which 
a large quantity of provisions and plenty of forage have been 

During Lord Cornwallis's stay at Pennington, a patrole of 
thirty dragoons from the i6th regiment, was sent out to gain in- 
telligence of a corps under the command of General Lee, reported 
to be in Morris county, on their way to cross the Delaware at 
Alexandria. Lieutenant-colonel Harcourt desired the direction 
of this detachment, and learning, as he proceeded, the situation 
of this corps, consisting of two thousand men, and of General 
Lee's headquarters, he contrived by infinite address and gallan- 
try, to get to his house undiscovered by the guard, surrounded it, 
and overcame all their resistance, and made the General prisoner. 

The time of service for which most of the enemy's troops were 
engaged being expired, their present strength, from a review of 


the latest intelligence received, is about 8000 on the south side 
of the Delaware, and in Philadelphia, 500 militia embodied in 
Morris county, New-Jersey, and about 3000 at Peek's Kill, North 
Castle, and the smaller posts in this province. 

No. 17. Colonel Rall to Colonel von Donop. 

Trenton, 20th of December 1776. 

Yesterday the rebels captured three men of the von Lossberg 
regiment who went out to procure forage two miles from here and 
not far from the road to Maidenhead. I have written to General 
Leslie at Princeton and asked him to post some troops at Maiden- 
head in order to keep open the communication with Princeton. 
In fact my right wing is too much exposed. Near Pennington 
stands a strong corps of rebels. At Howell's ferry on the other 
side of the Delaware four miles from here is the left wing of Gen- 
eral Stirling's command and at Upper Makefield on my right 
wing is the corps which General Lee commanded. The constant 
alarms and troubles I have here prevents me going to Borden- 
town today as I had hoped. This morning a grenadier called 
and stated that he alone had charge of the baggage that has been 
here already for four days and he wished that his Battalion would 
get a wagon and send for this baggage. He belongs to the von 
Linsingen battalion. 


This minute Lieutenant von Grothausen who made a patrol 
this morning with twenty yagers and four dragoons up the Dela- 
ware river for four miles has reported. He met a party of rebels 
one hundred and fifty strong, and as soon as they saw him they 
retreated but not until they had killed one of the horses of the 
dragoons. The patrol brought a prisoner with them whom I have 
in the guard house. 

No. 18. General Grant to Colonel von Donop. 

Brunswick Dec. 21st 1776. 


I have received your Letter of the i6th by Captain Campbell 
and since then that of the 18"'. When you send People for 
Intelligence, if you find that they serve you faithfully be so good 


as to give them certificates and refer them to Mr. Skinner ^ for 
payment, which is the method I am directed to follow as Skin- 
ner is best acquainted with the people of the Country and of 
course best Judge of what will satisfy them in the money way. 

Colonel Rail has lost another Dragoon. I have received three 
letters of yesterday's Date from him. I send you enclosed my 
answer and refer you to it for Information I have lately had 
about the Enemy, which I beheve is to be depended upon. 

I understand the Meaning of Monthly . . . les and have waved 
it. Colonel Rail sent a Detachment of loo men and a cannon to 
Princetown. I don't touch much upon that, but surely it was not 
necessar}', it was making more of the rebels than they deserve. 

Be so good as to communicate with General Leslie and fix with 
him what Days your Patrols should meet upon the road from 
Trenton to Princetown, you will of Course vary the Force and 
Time of sending them. I likewise write to him upon this 

We are in great Want of Carriages and Hay. I should be 
much obliged to you if you could send me a hundred Waggons 
loaded with Hay. The Farmers shall receive eleven Shillings a 
day for each Waggon with two horses and fifteen shillings a day 
for Waggons with four horses, the money to be paid weekly by 
Commissary Christie in Gold or dollars. If you cannot get a 
hundred Waggons send fifty or as many as can be found in the 
country, you will be kind enough to send an Escort with them to 
Princetown. Gen. Leslie will forward them from thence to this 

I have not heard from the General so can say nothing about 
your 1 8 pounders which I am as anxious about as you can be, 
Colonel Sterling not less so, in order to get into Quarters.^ 

The rebels gave way at Pluckhimin, the Guards had a man and 
a Guide wounded. At Springfield General LesUe had three men 
wounded the rebels had three killed one of their most violent 
Captains and several men wounded, they fled as usual into the 
mountains. I have some thoughts of quartering two regiments 

' Cortlandt Skinner, attorney-general of the Province of New Jer- 
sey under the crown, and afterward brigadier-general commanding a 
brigade of New Jersey volunteers — loyalists. 

- It was thought necessary to have these cannon in Burlington before 
the post was occupied. 


there to bring the People to their senses, if the General does not 
think the Post too far advanced. 

I am told Rhode Island surrendered without firing a shot. 
Lord Cornwallis has not sailed and you will still be in time to 
send Letters for Europe, which I shall forward by Express. Your 
Quarter masters passed and your Baggage shall be sent forward 
when they return. 

I have the honour to be with much esteem. Sir, 

Your most obed't & most h'ble servant 

James Grant. 

No. 19. Colonel von Donop to General Grant. 

BoRDENTOWN, 2ist of December 1776. 

Following my report of the 18' instant I have the honour to 
announce to you that although I had resolved to pay a visit to 
Mr. Putnam at Cooper's Creek, I have now changed my mind 
after having gone out day before yesterday with Colonels von 
Block and Sterling and a patrol to Mount Holly. I learned there 
that there was a large quantity of provisions on this side of the 
Delaware river. I concluded that at present it would not be 
worth while to weary the troops so much by making this march. 
The bridges have all been destroyed and the troops would have 
to make a long detour and march over marshy roads. 


No. 20. Colonel Rall to Colonel von Donop. 

Trenton, 21st of December 1776. 

Yesterday I sent two dragoons to Princeton with letters. They 
were not gone over an hour when one of them came back and 
reported that the other soldier had been killed and his own horse 
had been shot by a concealed enemy. He took the letters from 
his dead comrade and mounting his horse because his own had 
been wounded he returned here. I sent immediately one Captain 
with one hundred men and one piece of artillery to Princeton and 
asked again of General Leslie to place some troops at Maiden- 
head, if only two hundred men. This would keep up communi- 
cation between Princeton and Trenton if strong patrols were sent 
out from both places. The party that is making it so unsafe on 


this side of the river is estimated by some as one hundred and 
fifty men, others say there are not over forty men strong. 


Major Dunbar asks for an escort for his baggage from Borden- 
town to Trenton, which can be relieved as it passes on from post 
to post. 

No. 2 1. Colonel Rall to Colonel von Donop. 

Trenton, 21st of December 1776. 
Sir : 

It is impossible, my brother, to spare a battalion of my brigade 
as I am liable to be attacked at any moment. I have the enemy 
before me, behind me and at my right flank. The road from 
here to Princeton is very unsafe so that I have to send your let- 
ters by an escort of fifty men. The corps of General Lee is at 
my right flank and the enemy are very bold in front of me at the 
landings. But this I will stop by troops under cover. I will 
attack them as soon as they come near enough to enable me to 
do it. Be kind enough to send the baggage to the draw-bridge 
and it will be taken in charge by my command. I fully under- 
stand my situation and three battalions are few enough to defend 
myself here as you can readily judge for yourself. I beg there- 
fore to be relieved of this request and not be placed in certain 
danger. I have not made any redoubts or any kind of fortifica- 
tions because I have the enemy in all directions. It is then, my 
brother, absolutely impossible. I intended this morning to ask 
you to relieve me from posting guard at the draw-bridge because 
I cannot furnish men enough for other duties. If however this 
is utterly impossible, if it has still to be done, I am ready to obey 
my brother according to his first order. I send this by one of my 
mounted men, who can, in case you still insist, bring the order 
back immediately and the battalion can march to you instantly. 
But I will then be compelled to move out with the two battalions 
and camp outside the city. 


He left here one quarter to ten o'clock. 


No. 22. Colonel von Donop to General Grant. 

I await with impatience the arrival of tlie Koehler battaUon 
with the heavy artillery, because I am not able to take posses- 
sion of Burlington before they arrive, and as long as the galleys 
are in the neighbourhood. I had intended to post a battalion at 
Mount Holly but since I have myself seen the situation I have 
changed my mind not finding it proper to do so for the reason 
that dense woods are adjacent and there is high ground on the 
side of Moorestown and Haddonfield. But as soon as the 
Koehler battalion arrives I will post a considerable detachment 
there with some horse so that my left flank will be properly 
guarded. There is a great scarcity of houses to accommodate 
the troops in order that they may not be exposed to annoyance 
by the enemy. It would however be easy for the brigades to be 
quartered in the country behind me. Colonel Rail has reported 
to me that he had sent a patrol of twenty men and four dra- 
goons along the river above Trenton and the enemy as they were 
retiring killed a horse of our dragoons and in return we captured 
a prisoner from them. Also Colonel Rail tells me three soldiers 
from the von Lossberg regiment who were foraging near Maid- 
enhead were killed by the enemy. The plans of our troops have 
evidently not been announced although it was intended that the 
2nd British Battalion should have been posted at Maidenhead. 
Accordingly Colonel Rail has written to General Leslie that there 
should certainly be some troops there to keep open the communica- 
tion between Trenton and Princeton. Even now the Rail brigade 
is exposed on the rear to the attacks of the enemy and it will 
weary it too much if it is called upon to perform also this service. 
The General will notice the exchange of the English officer since 
my last report by examining the list and the letter of Colonel Cad- 
walader hereto annexed. At the same time I have the honor to 
send you the documents No. i, 2 & 3 received from Colonel 
Sterling and you will see by No. 4 that the situation is changed 
again today. If the enemy approaches still nearer it will be of 
advantage to me. I will go as I had intended yesterday morn- 
ing and attack them on the road, between Black Horse and Slab- 
town,^ which is half way between Black Horse and Mount Holly. 
He cannot march by our right flank without encountering another 
^ Now Jacksonville, Burlington County. 


body of men on the road from New Mill to Trenton. In this 
case if it is attempted I would be obliged to use the troops of 
Sterling, von Block and von Linsingen and keep open the com- 
munication with Rail and hold the drawbridge at Crosswicks 
Creek. Therefore I send you, my General, such directions as 
you may think proper to give to Lieutenant-Colonel Koehler in 
case he is marching with the heavy artillery on the road from 
South Amboy to ]\Ioorestown, for on this road he runs the risk 
of falling into the hands of the enemy. There is another state- 
ment which I have the honor to send you, with a copy of the 
letter and my reply. I judge from this letter that they are de- 
sirous to keep Mount Holly and to declare Burlington to be neu- 
tral ground. It is possible for the troops at Bristol to fire on 
the town of Burlington with six pounders but they cannot so 
control Mount Holly. In closing my letter I just received a 
report from Colonel Rail which informs me that in sending two 
dragoons yesterday with a letter to Princeton and scarcely an 
hour after they started one returned saying that the other dra- 
goon had been killed by a body of rebels who were in ambush on 
the road. He brought back to Colonel Rail the horse and the 
letter from the dragoon who had been killed. Colonel Rail im- 
mediately detached one hundred men with one cannon to take 
the letter to General Leslie at Princeton. He asked him to place 
two hundred men at least at Maidenhead immediately, which by 
frequent patrols would assure the communication being kept open 
between Trenton and Princeton. Colonel Rail also said that 
the party of the enemy which disturbed the highway according 
to one report consisted of about 150 men and from other reports 
not more than 40 men. 
(This letter was unsigned.) 

No. 23. General Grant to Colonel Rall. 

Brunswick, Dec. 21st 1776. 

I have this moment received your three Letters of yesterday's 
Date. I am sorry to hear your Brigade has been fatigued or 
alarmed. You may be assured that the rebel army in Pennsyl- 
vania which has been joined by Lee's Corps, Gates and Arnolds 
does not exceed eight thousand men who have neither shoes nor 
stockings, are in fact almost naked, dying of cold, without blan- 


kets and very ill supplied with Provisions. On this Side the 
Delaware they have not three hundred men. These stroll about 
in small parties, under the command of subaltern officers none 
of them above the rank of Captain, and their principal object is 
to pick up some of our Light Dragoons. 

With regard to the communication to Burdentown if the duty 
falls heavy upon your Brigade, you will be so good as to apply to 
Colonel Donop, who will give whatever Directions are necessary 
and when you send Letters to Princetown you may either send a 
small Detachment of Foot, or when despatch is necessary a Cor- 
poral and four Dragoons. For as General Howe does not ap- 
prove of Maidenhead for a Post, I can not send Troops there, 
but I have desired Brig. Gen. Leslie to send Patrols frequently 
from Princetown to meet the patrols from Trenton and to fix 
with Colonel Donop and you, when these Patrols are to be sent. 
Ammunition shall be sent for the Artillery & Powder & Balls to 
make Cartridges which your men can do themselves at their 

Officers are to give the parole and countresign in their respec- 
tive cantonments, which can be attended with no inconvenience 
to the service, any Body stop'd by your Out posts who has not 
your Parole and Countresign will be stop'd of course and brought 
before you, if you find he is a Friend you will of course release 
him or confine him if he is a suspected Person. 

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obed't & most h'ble 


James Grant 

To Col. Rall 

No. 24. Lieutenant Colonel Sterling to Colonel von 




A gentleman of Credit is just come who informs me that 1000 
of the rebels were certainly at Mountholly and they were to be at 
one o'clock at Slabtown and that 2000 more were in the rear to 
support them which he heard came in to Mountholly this morn- 
ing. He likewise heard that Washington proposed to send over 
1000 or 1500 men at Donks Ferry, which is 3 miles from Bur- 
lington on this Side of Rancocas Creek, to make a conjunction 


with the above. Col. Block has ordered out 3 Companys that 
are at Hancock's bridge and Busseltown. 

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obed't servant 

Thos. Sterling. 

2 oclock Saturday 


Sir : 

Colonel Block has just now conimunicated your Letter to me, 
wherein you do me the honour to know my opinion, the Rebels 
without Doubt mean to beat up our Quarters and drive us from 
hence from their approaching so near us. I am therefore of 
opinion, if it is necessary to keep their country for the winter 
that we should not wait to be attacked but so soon as we are 
certain, that a Body of them is at Slabtown, which. I believe is 
now the Case, that you Sir with the Troops at Burdentown should 
come here and attack them before they have time to extend 
themselves so as to surround us or to form a Plan to drive us 
from hence. I am confident we are a Match for them were their 
numbers as strong as we hear (3000 men). I suppose Colonel 
Raille will send a Battalion to occupy Burdentown in your ab- 

I have the honour to be Sir, Your most obed't h'ble servant 

Thos. Sterling. 


i past 4 o'clock Saturday 21st Dec. 1776. 

No. 25. Memoranda. 


{Inielligence by Mr. Hovenden, who left Bucks County 20th Dec, 


That the Main Body of the rebel army lies at Beaumonts be- 
tween Telits and Bakers Ferry about 11 miles above Trenton 
Ferry commanded by General Washington and Lord Stirling. 
That a party of about 3000 men under Gen. Sulivan had joined 
Gen. Washington and it was said they were immediately to march 
and make their Quarters at Newtown. That of this number near 
200 sick and invalids were arrived at the hospital at Newtown. 
A party 200 or 300 men are stationed at Robinsons Ferry about 7 
miles above Beaumonts, Don't know of any other party higher up 


the river. That General Washington had with him 6 eight pound- 
ers but were removed from thence, know not where. There are 
opposite to Slacks Island about 5 miles below Beaumonts 4 eight 
pounders. That below Slack's Island and at Yardley's are about 
600 men, commanded by Gen. Dickinson with two pieces of 
cannon. Gen. Mercer was there but often shifts his Quarters. 
That upon the most diligent Inquiry and best intelligence he 
could procure General Washington's whole Army did not consist 
of more than 8000 men. That General Sulivan went to Philadel- 
phia on the 15^'^ inst from Washington's Quarters. That Gen- 
eral Gates had not passed the river on Thursday last, but was 
informed, he was coming forward with about 500 men. 


(Intelligence by Mr. Haines., a Burlington County loyalist^ 

Bazilla Haines sent out to procure Intelligence on the 21^' 
of Dec. 1776 arrived at Mount holly in the night and lodged in 
the Rebel camp there. Was informed they had only two Field 
pieces, which he thinks were three pounders as he perceived them 
at the church. That all the Troops were drawn up in his view, 
that he walked round them and thinks there were not above 
eight hundred, near one half Boys and all of them militia, a very 
few Pennsylvanians excepted. That he knew a great many of 
them, who came from Gloucester, Egg Harbour, Penns Neck and 
Cohansey. They were commanded by Col. Griffin. 


{Intelligence by Samuel Brown, who left Bucks County on the 22''' 

Dec. 1776.) 

That the Troops opposite to Trenton and Bordentown are in 
number about 600 men commanded by General Ewing. Of these 
m>en there is a Guard of 25 men opposite Mr. Field's, about 50 
at Mr. Riche's opposite to Bordenton, about half a mile nearer 
Trenton about thirty, the rest lay above between Riche's and 
Trenton and over against Trenton there are two pieces of can- 
non. That Gen. Washingtons whole Army does not consist of 
more than 8000 men, about 5000 of them Troops formerly en- 
listed, partly brought from Jersey by Washington and partly by 
Sulivan, the rest are new raised Militia. That the time of Enlist- 


ment of Ewing's Brigade of 600 men all expire the first of Jan. 
next and that the officers and men and Gen. Ewing himself has 
declared they will serve no longer. That the New England Troops 
who came with General Washington it is generally believed from 
their Declaration that they will not serve longer than the Term of 
their Enlistment, which expires also the first of Jan'y next, that 
these Troops compose the main Part of Washington's Army. 
Mr. Hovenden further says that there are four regiments or 
rather the remains of them, whose time expires the ist of Jan'y 
and that he was informed by their principal officers that they 
would serve no longer out of their own Province. 

{Intelligence by Capt. Losbiniere who left Bristol the 22"''- Dec. 1776^ 

That there were two Companys at Neshaminy Ferry with some 
Boats. At Bristol not more than 800 or 900 at most commanded 
by Col. Cadwalader. No Entrenchments or other works but 5 
Cannon, three iron 4 pounders, two brass 6 pounders, and 7 flat- 
bottom boats which may carry about 50 men each and two ferry 
Boats, which may carry the like number. That they often send 
in the night a party of about 50 men over the river who land 
above Burlington, stay 24 Hours and return. At Minirks about 
3 miles above Bristol are two companys, one Company at the Old 
house on Penns-bury. 

At Mr. Thos. Richee's opposite to Bordentown, between 4 and 
500 men, and at Trenton Ferry about the same number, and that 
the whole number commanded by General Washington on Penn- 
sylvania side, supposing the Corps commanded by Gen. Lee to 
have formed their junction, which is confidently reported, are 
about 8000 men. That since their retreat from New Jersey a 
great number of sick are constantly sending to Philadelphia. 
That he knew not where Gen. Putnam is, but understood that 
Colonel Griffin is on the Jersey side of the River. That General 
MifHin set out from Philadelphia last week to raise a number of 
men in Westmoreland County and other frontier Parts of Penn- 


No. 26. Captain Loray to Colonel Rall. 

Crosswicks December 21st 1776. 

I have placed a guard at the large bridge, also have guarded 
all the road in the rear of your command. You may therefore 
feel that if the enemy does not attack you in front nothing can 
hurt you. My patrols went as far as Springfield and I heard that 
there are seven hundred men at Mount Holly, but it is not likely 
that they will undertake anything. I really believe that the 
whole party is nothing but a rebel patrol. To-morrow however I 
will report fully the particulars. 


No. 27. General Leslie to Colonel Rall. 

Princeton one o'Clock morning. 

I am honoured with your Letter at 12 o'Clock last night. I 've 
ordered the first L. Infantry to be at Trenton tomorrow at 10 
o'clock and I take the 2"'' L'. Inf. and 300 men of the 2""^ Bri- 
gade to Maidenhead to be in the Way if wanted. 

I, wish you success and am Sir your most obed't and h'ble ser- 

A. Leslie. 

Today. I 've mentioned the movement to General Grant. 

No. 28. Colonel Reed to General Washington. 

Bristol 22d December 1776. 
Dear Sir : 

Pomroy, whom I sent by your order to go to Amboy and so 
through the Jerseys and round by Princeton to you, returned to 
Burlington yesterday. He went to South Amboy, but was not 
able to get over ; upon which he came to Brunswic, passed on to 
Princeton, and was prevented from going to Pennington, upon 
which he returned to Burlington by way of Cranbury. 

His intelligence is, that he saw no troops, baggage wagons, or 
artillery going to New York, except about eight wagons, which 
he understood had the baggage of some of the light horse, who 
had been relieved and were going into quarters. At Cranbury 


he saw sixteen wagons going down to South Amboy for the bag- 
gage of about five hundred men, who Vvere to quarter about Cran- 
bury, being enlisted forces commanded by one Laurence. At 
Brunswic he saw four pieces of cannon ; the number of men he 
could not learn, but they did not exceed six or eight hundred. 
Princeton, he says, was called head-quarters, and there he saw a 
very considerable body of troops coming out of the College, meet- 
ing-house and other places where they quartered. He understood 
they were settled in their winter quarters, and had given over 
further operations till the spring. In Burlington County he found 
them scattered through all the farmer's houses, eight, ten, twelve 
and fifteen in a house, and rambling over the whole country. 

Colonel Griffin has advanced up the Jerseys with six hundred 
men as far as Mount Holly, within seven miles of their head- 
quarters at the Black Horse. He has written over here for two 
pieces of artillery and two or three hundred volunteers, as he 
expected an attack very soon. The spirits of the militia here are 
very high ; they are all for supporting him. Colonel Cadwalader 
and the gentlemen here all agree, that they should be indulged. 
We can either give him a strong reinforcement, or make a sepa- 
rate attack ; the latter bids fairest for producing the greatest and 
best efforts. It is therefore determined, to make all possible 
preparation today ; and, no event happening to change our mea- 
sures, the main body here will cross the river tomorrow morning 
and attack their post between this and the Black Horse, proceed- 
ing from thence either to the Black Horse or the Square, where 
about two hundred men are posted, as things shall turn out 
with Griffin. If they should not attack Griffin as he expects, it 
is probable both our parties may advance to the Black Horse, 
should success attend the intermediate attempt. If they should 
collect their force and march against Griffin, our attack will have 
the best efforts in preventing their sending troops on that errand, 
or breaking up their quarters and coming in upon their rear, 
which we must endeavour to do in order to free Griffin. 

We are all of opinion, my dear General, that something must 
be attempted to revive our expiring credit, give our cause some 
degree of reputation, and prevent a total depreciation of the 
Continental money, which is coming on very fast ; that even a 
failure cannot be more fatal, than to remain in our present situa- 
tion ; in short, some enterprise must be undertaken in our present 


circumstances, or we must give up the cause. In a little time the 
Continental army will be dissolved. The militia must be taken 
before their spirits and patience are exhausted ; and the scat- 
tered, divided state of the enemy affords us a fair opportunity of 
trying what our men will do, when called to an offensive attack. 
Will it not be possible, my dear General, for your troops, or such 
part of them as can act with advantage, to make a diversion, or 
something more, at or about Trenton ? The greater the alarm, 
the more likely the success will attend the attacks. If we could 
possess ourselves again of New Jersey, or any considerable part 
of it, the effects would be greater than if we had never left it. 

Allow me to hope that you will consult your own good judg- 
ment and spirit, and not let the goodness of your heart subject 
you to the influence of opinions from men in every respect your 
inferiors. Something must be attempted before the sixty days 
expire which the commissioners have allowed ; for, however many 
affect to despise it, it is evident that a very serious attention is 
paid to it, and I am confident that unless some more favourable 
appearance attends our arms and cause before that time, a very 
large number of the militia officers here will follow the example 
of those of Jersey and take benefit from it. I will not disguise 
my own sentiments, that our cause is desperate and hopeless, if 
we do not take the opportunity of the collection of troops at 
present, to strike some stroke. Our affairs are hastening fast to 
ruin if we do not retrieve them by some happy event. Delay 
with us is now equal to a total defeat. Be not deceived, my dear 
General, with small, flattering appearances ; we must not suffer 
ourselves to be lulled into security and inaction, because the 
enemy does not cross the river. It is but a reprieve ; the execu- 
tion is the more certain, for I am very clear that they can and 
will cross the river, in spite of any opposition we can give them. 

Pardon the freedom I have used. The love of my country, a 
wife and four children in the enemy's hands, the respect and 
attachment I have to you, the ruin and poverty that must attend 
me, and thousands of others will plead my excuse for so much 
freedom. I am with the greatest respect and regard, dear sir 
Your obedient and affectionate humble servant 

Joseph Reed. 


No. 29. General Washington to Colonel Reed. 

23 December 1776 

Dear Sir : 

The bearer is sent down to know whether your plan was 
attempted last night and if not to inform you, that Christmas-day at 
night, one hour before day is the time fixed upon for our attempt 
on Trenton. For Heaven's sake keep this to yourself, as the 
discovery of it may prove fatal to us, our numbers, sorry am I to 
say, being less than I had any conception of : but necessity, dire 
necessity, will, nay must, justify an attempt. Prepare, and, in 
concert with Griffin, attack as many of their posts as you possibly 
can with a prospect of success : the more we can attack at the 
same instant, the more confusion we shall spread and greater 
good will result from it. If I had not been fully convinced before 
of the enemy's designs, I have now ample testimony of their 
intentions to attack Philadelphia, so soon as the ice will afford 
the means of conveyance. 

As the Colonels of the Continental Regiments might kick up 
some dust about command, unless Cadwalader is considered by 
them in the light of a brigadier, which I wish him to be, I desired 
General Gates, who is unwell, and applied for leave to go to Phila- 
delphia, to endeavour, if his health would permit him, to call and 
stay two or three days at Bristol in his way. I shall not be par- 
ticular : we could not ripen matters for our attack before the time 
mentioned in the first part of this letter : -so much out of sorts 
and so much in want of everything are the troops under Sullivan 
&c. Let me know by a careful express the plan you are to pur- 
sue. The letter herewith sent, forward on to Philadelphia : I 
could wish it to be in time for the Southern post's departure, 
which will be I believe by eleven o'clock tomorrow. 

I am, dear Sir, Your most obedient servant 

Go. Washington 

P. S. — I have ordered our men to be provided with three 
days' provisions ready cooked, with which and their blankets 
they are to march : for if we are successful, which Heaven grant 
and the circumstances favor, we may push on. I shall direct 
every ferry and ford to be well guarded, and not a soul suffered 



to pass without an officer's going down witli the permit. Do the 
same with you. 

To Joseph Reed, Esq, — or in his absence to Jno. Cadwalader, Esq, 
only, at Bristol. 

No. 30. Quartermaster Gamble's Circulars. 

BuRDENTOWN December 24th 1776 
The General commanding in Chief his Majesteys Forces in 
New Jersey, in order to encourage the Inliabitants to supply the 
Troops with necessaries has thought proper to establish the fol- 
lowing prices to be paid in Gold and Silver for the Articles here- 
after mentioned and from the generous prices fixed it is to be 
hoped that the Inhabitants will cheerfully furnish the supplies in 
order to prevent the disagreeable alternative of having them 
seized by foraging Parties. The Inhabitants living in the neigh- 
bourhood of Trenton are to deliver their Produce to Mr. Palmer 
Commissary at that Place and those living near Bordentown are 
to deliver their Produce to Mr. MacCulloch Commissary, and 
those in the neighbourhood of Burlington to Mr. Johnstone Com- 
missary in that place. 

Hay taken from the Farmer 
do. delivered by the Farmer 
Oats delivered by the Farmer 
do. taken from the Farmer's house 
Indian Corn delivered by the Farmer 

do. taken from the house 
Wheat delivered by the Farmer 

do taken from the house 
Flour New York inspection delivered 

do taken from the mill 
Bran delivered 
do. taken from the mill 

1 (Captain Gamble (47th Foot) sent a copy of this circular with the 
following letter to Colonel von Donop, who was then at IVIount Holly.) 


(j: Ton 


jf do 


(! bushel 


if: do 


^ do 


i. do 


<f. do 


f do 


^ Ct, wt 


<f. do 


^ do 

9 I/: 



i hundred 

25 or 30/4 (4 do 

Thqs Gamble ^ 


Jlf. General 


BURDENTOWN, Dec. 24th 1776 


I do myself the honour to inclose you some intelligence re- 
ceived from the other side of the River, I believe from very good 
authority. I also inclose the prices fixed by General Grant for 
the different articles furnished the Troops by the Inhabitants of 
this province copies of which I shall take care to have dispersed 
throughout the District under your command. The Inhabitants 
begin to bring in supplies and our Magazine fills, so that I hope 
we shall not be reduced to the dissagreeable necessity of sending 
out Forage parties. The Commander in chief has issued orders 
for paying the Troops 165 Day's Batt. and Forage money, as a 
douceur for their service during the campaign. You will there- 
fore, Sir, be pleased to give the commanding Officers of Corps 
orders to have their returns in readiness for that purpose. 

I did myself the honour to write you a short note the night 
before last, inclosing you some intelligence and begging to know 
if you had any Commands for me. I was in hopes you would 
have allowed me to have attended you to Mountholly. 

Mr. Donop has brought directions for Mr. Laurence ^ to come 
to you he sets out early tomorrow morning for that purpose and 
if you think Mr. Galloway " can be of any service he will with 
great pleasure attend you. 

I have the honour to be with great respect Your most obed't 
h'lle serv't 

Th°s Gamble 

No. 31. Colonel John Cadwalader's Division. 
Colonel Daniel Hitchcock'' s Brigade. 

Eleventh regiment. Continental foot (formerly Second Rhode 
Island regiment). Colonel, Daniel Hitchcock (comdg. brig.) ; 
Lieutenant-Colonel, Ezekiel Cornell (detached D. A. G. Cent. 
Army) ; Major, Israel Angell (comdg. regt.). 18 commissioned 
officers and 129 enlisted men present. 

Fourth regiment, Continental foot — Massachusetts regiment. 

1 Probably Lieutenant Moritz von Donop of the Hessian yagers 
and Dr. John Lawrence of Monmouth County, New Jersey, an ardent 

^ Joseph Galloway, the distinguished Philadelphia loyalist. 


Colonel, ■ • ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Thomas Nixon ; Major, 

Andrew Colburn. The lieutenant-colonel in command, although 
about this time he was commissioned colonel of the regiment, to 
rank August 9, 1776, the former colonel, John Nixon, having 
been made a brigadier-general August 9, 1776. The major was 
absent, having been wounded at Harlem Heights, October 12, 
1776. He had been commissioned lieutenant-colonel of the Third 
New Hampshire regiment, but was still borne on the rolls of this 
regiment. (He was mortally wounded at the battle of Stillwater, 
September 19, 1777.) 17 commissioned officers and 184 enlisted 
men present. 

Ninth regiment, Continental foot — Rhode Island regiment. 

Colonel, ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Archibald Crary ; Major, 

Christopher Smith. The lieutenant-colonel in command ; major 
absent, and Colonel James M. Varnum also absent, having been 
promoted brigadier-general of the Rhode Island State troops, 
December 10, 1776. Christopher Greene, the first lieutenant- 
colonel of this regiment, had been taken prisoner in Canada, 
December 31, 1775, and was not yet exchanged. The office of 
colonel was left vacant to be filled by him. 16 commissioned 
officers and 148 enlisted men present. 

Twelfth regiment. Continental foot — Massachusetts regiment. 
Colonel, Moses Little ; Lieutenant-Colonel, William Henshaw ; 
Major, James Collins. The lieutenant-colonel in command ; major 
absent, and colonel in charge of a detachment of sick at Peek- 
skill, New York. 18 commissioned officers and 134 enlisted men 

Rhode Island regiment State troops. Colonel, Christopher Lip- 

pitt ; Lieutenant-Colonel, ; Major, James Tew. The colonel 

in command, and major absent. Lieutenant-Colonel Comstock, 
originally of this regiment, had been transferred to the First 
Rhode Island regiment, October 28, 1776, and the vacancy in the 
office of lieutenant-colonel had not been filled. 28 commissioned 
officers and 193 enlisted men present. 

The total effective strength of this brigade was 89 officers and 
788 men. 

Philadelphia Battalions of Associators. 

First battalion. Colonel, Jacob Morgan, Jr. ; I,ieutenant-Colo- 
nel, William Coates ; Major, Joseph Cowperthwaite. 


Second battalion. Colonel, John Bayard ; Lieutenant-Colonel, 
John Cox ; Major, William Bradford. 

Third battalion. Colonel, John Cadwalader ; Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel, John Nixon ; First Major, Samuel Meredith ; Second Major, 
Robert Knox. 

First company of artillery. Captain, Wingate Newman ; Cap- 
tain-Lieutenant, William Baxter ; Second Lieutenant, Nathaniel 
Wallace ; Second Lieutenant, John Sober. 

Second company of artillery. Captain, Jehu Eyre ; First Lieu- 
tenant, William Brown; Second Lieutenant, John Brown ; Second 
Lieutenant, Samuel Williams. 

All the field and company officers above mentioned were pre- 
sent for duty. 

Also attached to Colonel Cadwalader's division were : — 

Detachment of Philadelphia rifle battalion. Colonel Timothy 
Matlack, commanding. 

Four companies Philadelphia city militia. Captain George 
Henry, senior officer, commanding. 

Kent County, Delaware, militia company. Captain Thomas 
Rodney, commanding. 

The total effective force of the three battalions of Associators, 
the companies of artillery, the rifle battalion, and the militia of 
Philadelphia and of Kent County, Delaware, was about looo 

No. 32. Brigadier-General James Ewing's Division. 
Brigade of Pe7iiisylvania Militia of the Flying Camp. 

Cumberland County regiment. Colonel, Frederick Watts 
commanding ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Samuel Culbertson present ; 

Major, . 27 commissioned officers and 162 enlisted men 

present; 114 men absent, sick or on extra duty. 

Lancaster County regiment. Colonel, Jacob Klotz ; Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel, Thomas Murray ; Major, John Boyd. The colonel 
in command, major present and lieutenant-colonel absent. 18 
commissioned officers and 151 enlisted men present; 33 men 
absent, sick or on extra duty. 

Cumberland County regiment. Colonel, William Montgomery; 
Lieutenant-Colonel, ; Major, . The colonel in com- 
mand ; no other field officers in commission. 15 commissioned 


officers and 139 enlisted men present ; 149 men absent, sick, on 
extra duty or on furlough. 

York County regiment. Colonel, Richard McAllister; Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel, ; Major, John Clark, Jr. The colonel in 

command, and major detached for duty as aide-de-camp to Major- 
General Greene ; no lieutenant-colonel in commission. 15 com- 
missioned officers and 97 enlisted men present; 77 men absent, 
sick, on extra duty or on furlough. 

Chester County regiment. Colonel, James Moore ; Lieutenant- 
Colonel, George Smith ; Major, Solomon Bush. The major in 
command; colonel and lieutenant-colonel absent. 17 commis- 
sioned officers and 84 enlisted men present; 75 men absent, sick, 
on extra duty or on furlough. 

The total strength of this brigade was 92 officers and 633 men, 
with 277 soldiers fit for duty. 

To this force must be added a small body of from 300 to 500 
men of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey militia. 

Pennsylvania militia — Detachment Bucks County regiment. 
Colonel, Joseph Hart. 

New Jersey militia. Brigadier-General Philemon Dickinson, 
commanding; Brigade Major, Roberts Hoops; Captain and 
Aid-de-camp, Frederick Frelinghuysen. 

Detachment First regiment, Hunterdon County. Colonel, 
Isaac Smith ; Major, Joseph Phillips. 

Detachment Second regiment, Middlesex County. Colonel, 
John' Neilson ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Richard Lott ; First Major, 
John Taylor ; Second Major, John Van Emburgh. 

No. 33. General Officers of the American Revolution. 
Major-General John Sullivan, tvho was of Irish parentage, was 
born February 17, 1740, in Berwick, in what is now the State of 
Maine. He studied law, and when the war broke out was set- 
tled in New Hampshire. On June 22, 1775, he was made a brig- 
adier-general in the Continental array, and on August 9, 1776, 
was promoted to the rank of major-general. During the war 
we find him ever doing his duty fearlessly. He was a popular 
officer, of gentlemanly manners, and a soldier of great daring and 
determination, prompt and precise in carrying out. implicitly 
all instructions given him. His staff at this time consisted of 
Major William Stephens Smith, aide-de-camp and acting adju- 


tant-general ; Major Nicholas Van Cortland, aide-de-camp ; Major 
Lewis Morris, Jr., aide-de-camp ; Major Edward Sherburne, 
aide-de-camp; Major John White, aide-de-camp. (Both Major 
Sherburne and Major White were afterward killed at the battle of 
Germantown, October 4, 1777.) 

Major-General Nathanael Greene was of Quaker descent, 
and was born in the town of Warwick, Rhode Island, June 6, 
1742. Although at this time but thirty-four years of age, he held 
a responsible commission in the Continental army. He had 
entered the army in the first days of the war, and was made a 
major-general by Congress August 9, 1776. He distinguished 
himself in the battles of Trenton and Princeton, as well as at 
Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth, and was then placed 
in full command of the Southern Department. He was without 
doubt one of the ablest and truest of the men who surrounded 
the commanding general. He had a clear and fertile brain, and 
was ever ready and willing to do what he could for the cause of 
liberty. In all the miserable cabals which afterward disgraced 
the American arms, no taint of connection with any intrigue ever 
clung to the noble Greene. The glory which his good sword won 
still remains with unfading lustre around his name, although his 
body sleeps in what is now an unknown grave. It has "been 
truthfully said of him that " he carried in his native genius all 
the resources of war and the balance of every extreme of fortune." 
Even Lord Cornwallis gave this encomium to his practical gen- 
eralship : " Greene is as dangerous as Washington : He is vigi- 
lant, enterprising and full of resources. With but little hope of 
gaining any advantage over him I never feel secure when en- 
camped in his neighbourhood." The aides-de-camp on his staff 
were Major William Blodget, Major William Livingston, Major 
John Clark, Jr. 

Brigadier-General Lord Stirling, whose correct name was Wil- 
liam Alexander, but who claimed a title from the English crown, 
and immense tracts in Nova Scotia, was yet a soldier whose 
every impulse was directed by his devotion to his country's free- 
dom. He was a native of New York, was born in 1726, and had 
seen service in the French and Indian War on the staff of Gen- 
eral Shirley, but his home was near Baskingridge in Somerset 
County, New Jersey. His wife was a sister of Governor Living- 
ston of that State. He was colonel of the First battalion, Somer- 


set militia, at the breaking out of the war ; was appointed colonel 
of the First battalion, New Jersey Continental line, November 7, 
1775. brigadier-general by Congress, March 11, 1776, and major- 
general nearly a year later. As before mentioned, he had been 
captured at the battle of Long Island, but was exchanged within 
a mohth, and immediately rejoined his command. He was per- 
sonally a brave soldier, fearless in duty, strong in principles, and 
a well-educated and honorable man. The aide-de-camp of Gen- 
eral Lord Stirling was Lieutenant John Brent of the Third Vir- 
ginia regiment. 

Brigadier-General Matthias Alexis Roche de Fermoy was for 
many years an officer of engineers in the army of France, where 
he enjoyed a considerable reputation. With the restless ambition 
of a soldier of fortune he came to America, and was made a brig- 
adier-general by Congress, November 5, 1776. He took part in 
the battle of Saratoga, and acted, as at Trenton, in a very ques- 
tionable manner. He made a request of the Continental Con- 
gress, December 30, 1777, for promotion to the rank of major- 
general, but it was refused. 

Brigadier-General Adam Stephen was an officer from Virginia 
who had acquired an excellent reputation as lieutenant-colonel of 
Colonel Washington's regiment in the French and Indian war, 
that great preparatory school for officers of the Continental army, 
and who had been made a brigadier-general by Congress, Septem- 
ber 4, 1776. He fought well at Trenton, was made a major-general 
of the Continental army, February 19, 1777, and took part in the 
battle of Brandywincj but it is said that his intemperate habits 
brought him under a cloud at the battle of Germantown ; he was 
dismissed November 20, 1777, and thereafter his name is not 
mentioned in military history. 

Brigadier-General Arthur St. Clair was born in Edinburgh, 
Scotland, in the year 1734. He held a subaltern's commission in 
the army under General Wolfe, but in January, 1776, he was made 
a colonel of the Second Pennsylvania battalion. Continental line, 
and in the following August a brigadier-general of the Continental 
army. Soon after the battle of Princeton Congress conferred on 
him the rank of major-general, after which he commanded a divi- 
sion of Pennsylvania troops. His subsequent history was full of 
trouble. He was tried by court-martial for cowardice and treach- 
ery, but was fully acquitted, and lived for some years in great 


poverty, his proud spirit overwlielmed witli unmerited disgrace. 
General St. Clair's aide-de-camp in this campaign was Major 
James Wilkinson, formerly aide-de-camp to Major-General Gates. 

Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent was born in Salem, Massachu- 
setts, in 1745. He entered early into the struggle for independ- 
ence, and commanded a regiment at the siege of Boston. He 
was wounded at the battle of Bunker Hill, and after the battle of 
White Plains commanded a brigade of Continental troops. Colo- 
nel Sargent was considered a brave and skillful officer. He died 
in Sullivan, Maine, September 15, 1828. 

Colonel John Stark was born August 28, 1728, in Londonderry, 
New Hampshire. He fought bravely at Bunker Hill. After the 
battles of Trenton and Princeton he resigned, but in a few months 
led the New Hampshire troops at Bennington, and then as a 
brigadier-general of the Continental army joined General Gates 
with a strong force. He was gallant and courageous, always 
ready and eager for action, and with difficulty brooked restraint 
when once he caught sight of the enemies of his country. In 
appearance he resembled an Indian, with his tall figure, large 
nose and high cheek bones. He died in Manchester, New 
Hampshire, May 8, 1822.- 

Colonel John Glover of Marblehead, Massachusetts, owned a 
number of vessels, and before the war was extensively engaged in 
the fishing trade. His regiment was recruited from the hardy 
class of men whom he was accustomed to employ in his business 
life. His command was always efficient, and had more than the 
usual discipline. Colonel Glover was small in stature, and as 
Major-General the Chevalier de Chastellux writes, was " an active 
and a good soldier.'' 

Colonel Henry Knox was a Boston bookseller, and only twenty- 
six years of age at the date of the battles of Trenton and Prince- 
ton. He was a volunteer at the battle of Bunker Hill, and was 
afterward made colonel of a regiment of Continental artillery. 
He is always spoken of as the soul of honor, sincere, open- 
hearted, benevolent and brave. It is greatly to his credit that 
General Washington held him in the highest esteem, not only as 
a soldier but as Secretary of War and Navy, in his cabinet. 


No. 34. Field Officers of Troops under Washington's 
Immediate Command. 

Brigadier-General Lord Stirling's Brigade. 

First regiment, Virginia Continental infantry. Colonel, James 

Read ; Lieutenant-Colonel, ; Major, John Green. Captain 

John Fleming, senior officer, in command. All the field officers 
absent, Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Eppes having been killed at 
the battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776, and the major suffer- 
ing from wounds received at the battle of White Plains, October 
28, 1776. 31 commissioned officers and 154 enlisted men pre- 
sent; 329 men absent, sick, on extra duty or on furlough. 

Delaware regiment, Continental infantry. Colonel, John Has- 
let ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Gunning Bedford ; Major, Thomas Mc- 
Donough. The colonel in command ; lieutenant-colonel and 
major absent, the latter on account of wounds received at the 
battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776. 10 commissioned offi- 
cers and 98 enlisted men present; 32 men absent, sick. 

Third regiment, Virginia Continental infantry. Colonel, 
George Weedon ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Thomas Marshall ; Major, 
William Taliaferro. The colonel in command; major present; 
lieutenant-colonel absent. 21 commissioned officers and 160 
enlisted men present ; 452 men absent, sick, on extra duty or 
on furlough. 

First Pennsylvania rifle regiment volunteers. Colonel, ; 

Lieutenant-Colonel, ; Major, Ennion Williams. The major 

in command. The last colonel, Samuel Miles, and lieutenant- 
colonel, James Piper, prisoners of war, had been captured at the 
battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776, and Lieutenant-Colonel 
Piper had died September, 1776, in captivity. 19 commissioned 
officers and 180 enlisted men present; 305 men absent, sick, 
wounded, on extra duty or on furlough. This regiment and the 
Pennsylvania regiment of musketry commanded by Colonel Sam- 
uel J. Atlee were nearly destroyed at the battle of Long Island. 
The remnant of Colonel Atlee's command was then assigned to 
duty with this command. 

The total effective strength of this brigade was 81 officers and 
S92 men. 


Brigadier- General Roche de Fermoyi's Brigade. 

First regiment, Continental foot — Pennsylvania rifle regiment. 
Colonel, Edward Hand ; Lieutenant-Colonel, James Chambers ; 
Major, James Ross. The colonel in command ; major present ; 
lieutenant-colonel absent. 28 commissioned officers and 236 en- 
listed men present; 326 men absent, sick, on extra duty or on 

German regiment. Continental infantry. This organization 
was raised in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Colonel, Nicholas 
Haussegger ; Lieutenant-Colonel, George Strieker ; Major, Ludo- 
wick Weltner. All field officers present. 40 commissioned offi- 
cers and 334 enlisted men present ; 75 men absent, sick, on extra 
duty or on furlough. 

The total effective strength of this brigade was 68 officers and 
570 men. 

Brigadier- General Hugh Mercer's Brigade. 

Twentieth regiment. Continental foot — Connecticut regiment. 

Colonel, John Durkee ; Lieutenant-Colonel, ; Major, Thomas 

Dyer. The colonel in command; major present. The lieu- 
tenant-colonel had been, as General Washington wrote, "the 
gallant and brave Colonel Knowlton, who would have been an 
honour to any country," who was mortally wounded at Harlem 
Heights, September 16, 1776. 30 commissioned officers and 283 
enlisted men present; 217 men absent, sick, on extra duty or on 

First Maryland regiment. Continental infantry. Colonel, Fran- 
cis Ware ; Lieutenant-Colonel, John H. Stone ; Major, Patrick 
Sim. The colonel and major absent. The last colonel of this 
regiment, William Smallwood, had been made a brigadier-general, 
October 23, 1776, wounded five days afterward at the battle of 
White Plains, and at this time sent to Maryland to arouse the 
people. The lieutenant-colonel was in command of the regiment. 
In after years he was the governor of Maryland. 5 commissioned 
officers and 158 enlisted men present; lo men absent, sick or on 

Twenty-seventh regiment. Continental foot — Massachusetts 
regiment. Colonel, Israel Hutchinson; Lieutenant- Colonel, 
Benjamin Holden ; Major, Ezra Putnam. The major in com- 


mand ; colonel and lieutenant-colonel absent. 17 commissioned 
officers and 98 enlisted men present ; 292 men absent, sick or on 

Colonel Bradley's battalion, Connecticut state troops. Colonel, 
Philip Burr Bradley; Lieutenant-Colonel, Thomas Hobby; Major, 
David Dimon. All field officers absent ; colonel sick at home ; 
lieutenant-colonel a prisoner Of war, and suffering from wounds 
received at Fort Washington, November 16, 1776, and major on 
duty at Albany, New York. Captain Benjamin Mills, senior offi'- 
cer, in command. 18 commissioned officers and 124 enlisted men 
present ; 231 men absent, sick, on extra duty, on furlough or pris- 
oners of war. 

Maryland rifle battalion volunteers. Lieutenant-Colonel Com- 
mandant, Moses Rawlings. The lieutenant-colonel absent, suf- 
fering from wounds received at Fort Washington, November 16, 
1776. Captain David Harris, senior officer, in command. 3 com- 
missioned officers and 102 enlisted men present ; 19 men absent, 

The total effective strength of this brigade was 73 officers and 
765 men. 

Bngadier-Ge7ieral Adam Stephen's Brigade. 

Fourth regiment, Virginia- Continental infantry. Colonel, 
Thomas Elliott ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Robert Lawson ; Major, 
John Sayres. The lieutenant-colonel in command ; colonel and 
major absent. (The major was killed at the battle of German- 
town, October 4, 1777.) 31 commissioned officers and ig8 en- 
listed men present ; 33 men absent, sick or on extra duty. 

Fifth regiment, Virginia Continental infantry. Colonel, 
Charles Scott ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Josiah Parker ; Major, George 
Johnston. All field officers present. 14 commissioned officers 
and 115 enlisted men present; 25 men absent, sick or on extra 

Sixth regiment, Virginia Continental infantry. Colonel, Mor- 
decai Buckner ; Lieutenant-Colonel, James Hendricks ; Major, 
Richard Parker. The colonel in command ; lieutenant-colonel 
present; major absent. 25 commissioned officers and 166 en- 
listed men present ; 58 men absent, sick or on extra duty. 

The total effective strength of the brigade was 70 officers and 
479 men. 


Brigadier-General Arthicr St. Clair's Brigade. 

Fifth regiment, Continental foot — formerly First New 
Hampshire regiment. Colonel, John Stark ; Lieutenant-Colonel, 
Thomas Poor ; Major, John Moore. The colonel in command. 
About no men fit for duty. 

Eighth regiment, Continental foot — formerly Second New 
Hampshire regiment. Colonel, Enoch Poor ; Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel, John McDuffie ; Major, Joseph Cilley. 90 effective men in 
this regiment. 

Second regiment, Continental foot — formerly Third New 

Hampshire regiment. Colonel, ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Israel 

Oilman ; Major, Nathan Hale. The lieutenant-colonel in com- 
mand. The last colonel, James Reed, had been commissioned a 
brigadier-general, August 9, 1776, and was absent with a detach- 
ment of convalescents, "lame and ragged," at Peekskill, New 
York. About this time, he was " struck with blindness," and 
was obliged to leave the service. About 135 men on duty. 

Fifteenth regiment, Continental foot — Massachusetts regi- 
ment. Colonel, John Paterson ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Seth Read; 
Major, Henry Sherburne (of Rhode Island). The colonel in 
command ; lieutenant-colonel and major absent. The lieutenant- 
colonel had become insane. 170 men present for service. 

The total effective strength of the brigade was about 500 men. 

Colonel Paul D. Sargent's Brigade. 

Sixteenth regiment. Continental foot — Massachusetts regi- 
ment. Colonel, Paul Dudley Sargent; Lieutenant - Colonel, 

Michael Jackson ; Major, . The colonel in command of the 

brigade ; lieutenant-colonel absent, wounded at Montressor's Is- 
land, September 24, 1776. The regiment had no major, as Major 
Jonathan \'\'. Austin had been cashiered November 13, 1776. 
Captain James Perry, senior officer, in command. 17 commis- 
sioned officers and 135 enlisted men present; 313 men absent, 
sick or on extra duty. 

Colonel Ward's regiment, Connecticut Continental infantry. 
Colonel, Andrew Ward ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Obadiah Johnson ; " 

1 The return of December 22, 1776, in Force's Archives, says the 
heutenant-colonel of Colonel Ward's regiment was "present." It ap- 
pears by Correspondence and Journals of Colonel Samuel B. Webb, 


Major, Thaddeus Cook. The colonel and major present. 13 
commissioned officers and 144 enlisted men present; 292 men 
absent, sick, on extra duty or on furlough. 

Sixth battalion, Connecticut State troops. Colonel, John 
Chester ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Solomon Wills ; Major, John Rip- 
ley. All field officers present. 19 commissioned officers and 241 
enlisted men present. This battalion, although belonging to 
Sargent's brigade, did not cross the river on Christmas night, 
but remained on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware. 

Thirteenth regiment, Continental foot — Massachusetts regi- 
ment. Colonel, Joseph Read; Lieutenant-Colonel, Ebenezer 
Clap ; Major, Calvin Smith. The lieutenant-colonel in com- 
mand ; major present; colonel absent. 16 commissioned officers 
and 106 enlisted men present; 337 men absent, sick, on extra 
duty or on furlough. 

First regiment. New York Continental infantry. Colonel, 

; Lieutenant-Colonel, ; Major, . This regiment is 

generally known as Colonel Alexander McDougall's regiment, 
although he had been promoted brigadier-general of the Conti- 
nental army, August 9, 1776, and was stationed at Morristown, 
New Jersey. Lieutenant-Colonel Herman Zedwitz had been 
cashiered and sent to prison, November 22, 1776, and Major 
Barnabas Tuthill had resigned, September 4, 1776. Captain John 
Johnson was senior officer in command of the regiment. 11 com- 
missioned officers and 45 enlisted men present ; 9 men absent, 

Third regiment. New York Continental infantry. Colonel, 
Peter Gansevoort ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Baron Friedrich von 
Weisenfels ; Major, Robert Cochran. The lieutenant-colonel in 
command; colonel and major absent. 15 commissioned officers 
and 65 enlisted men present ; 16 men absent, sick. 

The total effective strength of the brigade was 91 officers and 

736 men. 

Coloneljohn Glover's Brigade. 

Fourteenth regiment, Continental foot — Massachusetts regi- 
ment, commonly called the " Marblehead Regiment." Colonel, 
vol. ii. p. 137, that Lieutenant-Colonel Obadiah Johnson of this regi- 
ment obtained a furlough to go home, much to General Washington's 
disgust. It is difficult to say whether or not he was present at Trenton ; 
probably he was not. 


John Glover ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Gabriel Johonnot ; Major, 
William R. Lee. The major in command ; colonel present in 
command of the brigade ; lieutenant-colonel absent. 30 com- 
missioned officers and 147 enlisted men present ; 219 men absent, 
sick or on extra duty. 

Third regiment Continental foot — Massachusetts regiment. 

Colonel, ^\llIiam Shepard ; Lieutenant-Colonel, ; Major, 

Ebenezer Sprout. The colonel in command and major present. 
22 commissioned officers and 195 enlisted men present ; 318 men 
absent, sick, on extra duty or on furlough. 

Nineteenth regiment Continental foot — Connecticut regi- 
ment. Colonel, Charles Webb ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Street Hall; 
Major, John Brooks. The colonel in command ; major present ; 
lieutenant-colonel absent. Major Brooks, afterwards governor of 
Massachusetts, in the march to the surprise at Trenton was over- 
come with fatigue, and was reluctantly obliged to return to the 
encampment. Captain William Hull performed his duties. 22 
commissioned officers and 190 enlisted men present; 342 men 
absent, sick, on extra duty or on furlough. 

Twenty-third regiment. Continental foot — Massachusetts regi- 
ment. Colonel, John Bailey; lieutenant-colonel, John Jacobs; 
Major, Josiah Hayden. The colonel in command; lieutenant- 
colonel present; major absent. 17 commissioned officers and 
129 enlisted men present ; 353 men absent, sick or on extra duty. 

Twenty-sixth regiment. Continental foot — Massachusetts regi- 
ment. Colonel, Loammi Baldwin; Lieutenant-Colonel, James 
Wesson ; Major, Isaac Sherman (of Connecticut). All field offi- 
cers present. 24 commissioned officers and 197 enlisted men 
present; 268 men absent, sick or on extra duty. The return of 
December 29, 1776, which is on file in the adjutant-general's 
office at Trenton, differs somewhat from the inspection before the 
fight, dated December 22, 1776. The former gives 23 officers and 
190 men in this regiment in the expedition. 

The total effective strength of the brigade was 115 officers and 
858 men. 

K/wx's Regiment Continental Artillery and State Batteries assigned 
to this Command. 

Colonel, Henry Knox; Lieutenant-Colonel, David Mason; 
Major, John Crane ; Major, John Lamb ; First Lieutenant, Sam- 


uel Shaw, Adjutant ; First Lieutenant, Samuel Treat, Quarter- 
master. All present except Major Crane, who had been wounded 
at Corker's Hook, September 14, 1776. 

New York company of Continental artillery. Captain, Sebas- 
tian Bauman ; Captain-Lieutenant, Joseph Crane ; First Lieuten- 
ant, George Fleming ; Second Lieutenant, Jacob Reed ; Second 
Lieutenant, Cornelius Swartwout. This company had about 80 
men and three small cannon. 

Massachusetts company of Continental artillery. Captain, 
Thomas Pierce ; Captain- Lieutenant, Winthrop Sargent ; First 
Lieutenant, Isaac Packard ; Second Lieutenant, David Preston ; 
Second Lieutenant, Joseph Blake. The captain-lieutenant in 
command, Captain Pierce being absent, wounded, and Lieutenant 
Blake, a prisoner of war, captured at Fort Washington, Novem- 
ber 16, 1776. This battery had two guns. 

New York State company of artillery — late provincial com- 
pany. Captain, Alexander Hamilton ; Captain-Lieutenant, James 

Moore ; First Lieutenant, ; Second Lieutenant, Thomas 

Deane ; Second Lieutenant, Thomas Thompson. The captain in 
command. The captain-lieutenant was sick with camp fever at 
the house of Robert Thompson, Upper Makefield Township, 
Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and died there December 26, 1776. 
He was buried near the mouth of Pidcock's Creek. First Lieu- 
tenant James Gilliland had resigned in December, 1776. 4 com- 
missioned officers and 32 enlisted men present. This company 
had two guns. 

Eastern company, New Jersey State artillery. Captain, Daniel 
Neil j Captain- Lieutenant, John Doughty j First Lieutenant, 
Thomas Clark ; Second Lieutenant, John Vandyke ; Third 
Lieutenant, Aaron Clark. The captain in command. The cap- 
tain-lieutenant was on special duty. 4 oflicers and 59 enlisted 
men present. The company had two guns. 

Western company. New Jersey State artillery. Captain, Samuel 
Hugg; Captain-Lieutenant, Thomas Newark; First Lieutenant, 
John Westcott ; Second Lieutenant, Joseph Dayton. This battery 
had two guns. 

Second company of Pennsylvania State artillery battalion. 
Captain, Thomas Forrest ; First Lieutenant, Hercules Courtney j 
Second Lieutenant, Francis Procter ; Third Lieutenant, Patrick 
Duffy. The captain and third lieutenant and 50 enlisted men 


present. The first and second lieutenants absent on detached 
duty. Lieutenant Courtney remained in Philadelphia with Major 
Procter's detachment, and was made captain of a company. 
First Lieutenant Worsley Eames of said detachment was on duty 
with Captain Forrest's company. This company was equipped 
with two brass-mounted six-pounders.'' 

Second company of artillery of Philadelphia Associators. Cap- 
tain, Joseph Moulder ; First Lieutenant, U'illiam Linnard ; Sec- 
ond Lieutenant, Anthony Cuthbert. 3 officers and 82 enlisted 
men present. This company had three guns. 

Philadelphia troop of light horse. Captain, Samuel Morris ; 
Second Lieutenant, James Budden ; Cornet, John Dunlap. 3 
officers and 22 enlisted men present. 

No. 35. John Honeyman. 

The following document is found among the Revolutionary 
papers filed in the adjutant-general's office at Trenton. It does 
not appear b)' the county records that any punishment was meted 
out to the defendant by reason of these charges. 

State of New Jersey ] 
Somerset County | 

To wit. An Inquisition taken and Made in the Hilborough 
Township of the said County of Somerset the Ninth day of June in 
the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy 
Eight, By the oaths of, Henderick Probasco, Henderick Stryker, 
Thomas Skillman, Reyneir Veghte, Peter Stryker, Jn° Stryker, 
Cornelius Lett, Frederick VanLew, Laurance VanCIeef, William 
Baird, Samuel Geulick, Uriah VanCIeef, Gerardes Beekman, Jn° 
Voorheese, Abraham Voorhees, Abraham Ditmass, Abraham 
Beekman, Christopher Beekman, Nathan Allen, Joest Kershow, 
Garret Voorheese, Joseph Hageman, Garret Terhune Jr. Martin 
Nevious, Good and Lawful men of the Said County, Before Edward 
Bunn Esq' one of the Justices of the Peace of the said County, 
Who upon their Oath aforesaid say that John Honeyman of the 
Eastern Precinct in the County aforesaid did since the fifth day 
of October one thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy Six and 

' The Pennsylvania Magazine, No. 4, vol. iv. p. 470, shows an " In- 
dent of Stores for two Six pounders sent under the Command of Cap. 
Thomas Forrest To Join the Grand Army at Trentown December 4th 


Before the fifth day of June One Thousand Seven Hundred and 
Seventy Seven did aid and comfort the Enemies within this State 
against tlie form of the allegiance to the State the Government 
and Dignity of the Same. 

We whose names are hereunto Set and Seals affixed being the 
Juries above Named do upon the Evidence to us produced find 
the Inquisition aforesaid True 

Hendrack Probasco (seal) 

Hendrick Stryker (seal) 

Thomas Skillman (seal) 

Reyneir Veghte (seal) 

Peter Stryker (seal) 

John Stryker (seal) 

CoRN^ Lott (seal) 

Frederick^ VanLieu (seal) 

Laurance V Cleef (seal) 

William Bard (seal) 

Samuel Gulick (seal) 
Garret Terhune Jun'' (seal) 

Joseph Hageman (seal) 

Jurias VanCleef (seal) 

Gerardus Beekman (seal) 

John Voorhees (seal) 

Abraham Voorhees (seal) 

Abraham Ditmars (seal) 

Abraham Beekman (seal) 
Christopher Beekman (seal) 

Nathan Allin (seal) 

JosT Kesciu (seal) 

Garrit Voorhees (seal) 

Martinis Nevyus (seal) 

I Do Hereby Certify that the within Inquisition by the Juries 
therein Named this Ninth day of June One thousand Seven Hun- 
dred and Seventy Eight before me 

(Signed) Edward Bunn. 

The Def appeared and the Inquisition being read, &C pleaded 
Not Guilty, &c and put himself upon his Country, &c, &c, &c 

(signed) W"" Paterson 

AtP Gener' 

No. 36. General Mercer to Colonel Durkee. 

25 Dec. 1776. 
Sir : You are to see that your men have three days' provisions 
ready cooked before 12 o'clock this forenoon — the whole fit for 
duty except a Serjeant and six men to be left with the baggage, 
and to parade precisely at four in the afternoon with their arms, 
accoutrements & ammunition in the best order, with their pro- 
visions and blankets— you will have them told off in divisions 
in which order they are to march — eight men abreast, with the 


officers fixed to their divisions from which they are on no account 
to separate — no man is to quit his division on pain of instant 
punishment — each officer is to provide himself with a piece of 
white paper stuck in his hat for a field mark. You will order 
your men to assemble and parade them in the valley immediately 
over the hill on the back of McConkey's Ferry, to remain there 
for farther orders — a profound silence is to be observed, both 
by officers and men, and a strict and ready attention paid to 
whatever orders may be given — in forming the Brigade Co 
Durkee takes the right, Co. Stone left, Co. Bradley on the left of 
Co. Durkee & Co. Rawlings on the Right of Co. Stone — the 
Line to form & march from the Right — Co. Hutchinson to form 
by themselves. — 

Your obt S'v't 

H. Mercer. 

No. 37. From Diary of an Officer on Washington's Staff. 

New Town, Pa., Dec. 22, 1776. 

Things have been going against us since last August, when we 
were forced to give up Long Island, losing 3000 men and a 
great amount of supplies. In October we were forced to evacu- 
ate New York and cross the Hudson into New Jersey. We 
reached Trenton Dec. 2. It was prudent forethought on the 
part of General Washington to send General Maxwell ahead to 
secure all the boats on the Delaware River and have them at 
Trenton upon our arrival. If it had not been done we should 
have been in a bad fix with Cornwallis at our heels. As it was 
the Hessians under Count Donop and Colonel Rail arrived in 
that village in season to fire a few shots at the last boat. Accord- 
ing to last accounts General Howe and General Cornwallis have 
gone to New York leaving General Grant with a few hundred 
English troops at Princeton, Colonel Rail with 1500 Hessians at 
Trenton and Count Donop with 2000 at Bordentown, ten miles 
down the river from Trenton. 

Washington's headquarters are here in this little village of New 
Town, back from the river northwest of Trenton. General 
Greene and General Sullivan, with their divisions, numbering 
2500 men and sixteen cannon, are ten miles up stream at McCon- 
key's Ferry. A portion of the boats are there. General Ewing, 
with 2000 men, is on this side of the river a little below Trenton, 


and General Cadwallader and General Putnam are at Bristol, ten 
miles further down, with as many more. 

I rode along the river yesterday morning and could see the 
Hessians in Trenton. It is a pretty village, containing about 130 
houses and a Presbyterian meeting-house. A stone bridge spans 
the Assinpink creek on the road leading south to Bordentown. 
There are apple orchards and gardens. Rail has his own regi- 
ment and Knyphausen a few dragoons and fifty riflemen. The 
Hessians call them Yagers. He has six cannon. Knyphausen 
has two of them, two stand in front of Rail's headquarters, and 
two up by the Pennington road. A scout just in says that Gen- 
eral Howe has issued a proclamation, offering pardon to every- 
body in New Jersey who will lay down their arms and take the 
oath of allegiance. He says that Howe and Cornwallis are well 
satisfied with what they have accomplished. Cornwallis is going 
to England to tell the King that the rebellion is about over. 
Howe is going to have a good time in New York attending dinner 
parties. From what I see I am quite certain Washington intends 
to make some movement soon. He keeps his own counsel, but 
is very much determined. 

Dec. 23 — Orders have been issued to cook rations for three 
days. Washington has just given the counter sign, "Victory or 
Death." He has written a letter to General Cadwallader at Bris- 
tol, which he has intrusted to me to copy. He intends to cross 
the river, make a ten-mile march to Trenton, and attack Rail 
just before daybreak. Ewing is to cross and seize the bridge 
crossing the Assanpink. Putnam and Cadwallader are to cross 
and make a feint of attacking Donop so that he can not hasten 
to Rail's assistance. 

Dec. 24 — A scout just in says that the Hessians have a picket 
on the Pennington road half a mile out from Trenton, and another 
at Dickenson's house, on the river road. 

Dec. 25 — Christmas morning. They make a great deal of 
Christmas in Germany, and no doubt the Hessians will drink a 
great deal of beer and have a dance to-night. They will be 
sleepy to-morrow morning. Washington will set the tune for 
them about daybreak. The rations are cooked. New flints and 
ammunition have been distributed. Colonel Glover's fishermen 
from Marblehead, Mass., are to manage the boats just as they 
did in the retreat from Long Island. 


Christmas, 6 p. m. — The regiments have had their evening 
parade, but instead of returning to their quarters are marching 
toward the ferry. It is fearfully cold and raw and a snow-storm 
setting in. The wind is northeast and beats in the faces of the 
men. It will be a terrible night for the soldiers who have no 
shoes. Some of them have tied old rags around their feet ; others 
are barefoot, but I have not heard a man complain. They are 
ready to suffer any hardship and die rather than give up their 
liberty. I have just copied the order for marching. Both divi- 
sions are to go from the ferry to Bear Tavern, two miles. They 
will separate there ; Washington will accompany Greene's division 
with a part of the artillery down the Pennington Road ; Sullivan 
and the rest of the artillery will take the river road. 

Dec. 26, 3 a. m. — I am writing in the ferry house. The troops 
are all over, and the boats have gone back for the artillery. We 
are three hours behind the set time. Glover's men have had a 
hard time to force the boats through the floating ice with the 
snow drifting in their faces. I never have seen Washington so 
determined as he is now. He stands on the bank of the river, 
wrapped in his cloak, superintending the landing of his troops. 
He is calm and collected, but very determined. The storm is 
changing to sleet, and cuts like a knife. The last cannon is 
being landed, and we are ready to mount our horses. 

Dec. 26, Noon — It was nearly 4 o'clock when we started. 
The two divisions divided at Bear Tavern. 

At Birmingham, three and a half miles south of the tavern, a 
man came with a message from General Sullivan that the storm 
was wetting the muskets and rendering them unfit for service. 
"Tell General Sullivan," said Washington, "to use the bayonet. 
I am resolved to take Trenton." 

It was broad daylight when we came to a house where a man 
was chopping wood. He was very much surprised when he saw 
us. " Can you tell me where the Hessian picket is ? " Washington 
asked. The man hesitated, but I said, " You need not be fright- 
ened, it is General Washington who asks the question." His 
face brightened and he pointed toward the house of Mr. Howell. 

It was just 8 o'clock. Looking down the road I saw a Hessian 
running out from the house. He yelled in Dutch and swung his 
arms. Three or four others came out with their guns. Two of 
them fired at us, but the bullets whistled over our heads. Some 


of General Stephen's men rushed forward and captured two. 
The others took to their heels, running toward Mr. Calhoun's 
house, where the picket guard was stationed, about twenty men 
under Captain Altenbrockum. They came running out of the 
house. The Captain flourished his sword and tried to form his 
men. Some of them fired at us, others ran toward the village. 
The next moment we heard drums beat and a bugle sound, and 
then from the west came the boom of a cannon. General Wash- 
ington's face lighted up instantly, for he knew that it was one of 
Sullivan's guns. We could see a great commotion down toward 
the meeting-house, men running here and there, officers swinging 
their swords, artillerymen harnessing their horses. Captain For- 
rest unlimbered his guns. Washington gave the order to advance, 
and we rushed on to the junction of King and Queen streets. 
Forrest wheeled six of his cannon into position to sweep both 
streets. The riflemen under Colonel Hand and Scott's and Law- 
son's battalions went upon the run through the fields on the left 
to gain possession of the Princeton road. The Hessians were 
just ready to open fire with two of their cannon when Captain 
Washington and Lieutenant Monroe with their men rushed for- 
ward and captured them. We saw Rail come riding up the street 
from his headquarters, which were at Stacy Potts' house. We 
could hear him shouting in Dutch, " My brave soldiers, advance." 
His men were frightened and confused, for our men were firing 
upon them from fences and houses and they were falling fast. 
Instead of advancing they ran into an apple orchard. The offi- 
cers tried to rally them, but our men kept advancing and picking 
off the officers. It was not long before Rail tumbled from his 
horse and his soldiers threw down their guns and gave themselves 
up as prisoners. 

While this was taking place on the Pennington road Colonel 
John Stark, from New Hampshire, in the advance on the river 
road was driving Knyphausen's men pell mell through the town. 
Sullivan sent a portion of his troops under St. Clair to seize the 
bridge and cut off the retreat of the Hessians toward Borden- 
town. Sullivan's men shot the artillery horses and captured two 
cannon attached to Knyphausen's regiment. 

Dec. 26, 3 p. m. — I have been talking with Rail's Adjutant, 
Lieutenant Piel. He says that Rail sat down to a grand dinner 
at the Trenton Tavern Christmas Day, that he drank a great deal 


o£ wine and sat up nearly all night playing cards. He had been 
in bed but a short time when the battle began and was sound 
asleep. Piel shook him, but found it hard work to wake him up. 
Supposing he was wide awake Piel went out to help rally the 
men, but Rail not appearing, he went back and found him in his 
night shirt. " What 's the matter ? " Rail asked. Piel informed 
him that a battle was going on. That seemed to bring him to 
his senses. He dressed himself, rushed out and mounted his 
horse to be mortally wounded a few minutes later. 

We have taken nearly 1000 prisoners, six cannon, more than 
1000 muskets, twelve drums, and four colors. About forty Hes- 
sians were killed or wounded. Our loss is only two killed and 
three wounded. Two of the latter are Captain Washington and 
Lieutenant Monroe, who rushed forward very bravely to seize the 

I have just been with General Washington and Greene to see 
Rail. He will not live through the night. He asked that his 
men might be kindly treated. Washington promised that he 
would see they were well cared for. 

Dec. 27, 1776. — Here we are back in our camp with the pris- 
oners and trophies. Washington is keeping his promise ; the 
soldiers are in the New Town Meeting-house and other buildings. 
He has just given directions for to-morrow's dinner. All the 
captured Hessian officers are to dine with him. He bears the 
Hessians no malice, but says they have been sold by their Grand 
Duke to King George and sent to America, when if they could 
have their own way they would be peaceably living in their own 

It is a glorious victory. It will rejoice the hearts of our friends 
everywhere and give new life to our hitherto waning fortunes. 
Washington has baffled the enemy in his retreat from New York. 
He has pounced upon the Hessians like an eagle upon a hen and 
is safe once more on this side the river. If he does nothing more 
he will live in history as a great military commander. 

No. 38. Colonel Cadwalader to . 

Bristol 26th Deer 1776. 
Gentlemen. — 

There was a general attack to be made last night. The river 
was impassable here & we made the attempt at Dunks Ferry but 


found it impracticable to get over our Cannon, we returned this 
morn'g to Bristol about four. I this moment have an account by 
Mr. JMcLane (a man of veracity) that he was at Trenton Ferry 
this morning & heard a very heavy firing on the River & Penny 
Town Roads that lead to Trenton — the heavy firing lasted about 
J an Hour & continued to moderate for about three Quarters. 
The Light Horse & Hessians were seen flying in great confusion 
towards Bordentown, but without Cannon or Waggons, so that 
the Enemy must have lost the whole, a party of our men inter- 
cepted about a Dozen Hessians in sight of our people on this 
side & brought them to the Ferry & huzza'd. I have ordered the 
boats from Dunk's and shall pass as soon as possible — we can 
muster here about 1800 men if the Expedition last night in the 
storm does not thin our Ranks. Has General Putnam crossed 
and with what Numbers — Pray let me know ; Everything of this 
kind gives Confidence to the Troops. 1 have no doubt of the 
report, a heavy firing was heard at this place — an attempt was 
made to pass at or a little below Trenton Ferr)', but could not get 
over, that would have made the Victory still more compleat. 

Yours & 

John Cadwalader. 

No. 39. Colonel Cadwalader to . 

Bristol, 25th Deer 
Gentlemen : 

I wrote this morning to Gen. Washington directed to Gen. 
Ewing at Trenton Ferry who informs me that he cannot yet ascer- 
tain the particulars of this morning's action — one \\'aggon loaded 
with Arms was brought down to the Ferry (Hessian arms) and 
safe landed on this shore & six Hessians we have taken 14 or 16 
ps of Cannon, a considerable of Stores & Cloathing. The num- 
ber of killed, wounded &: prisoners is very considerable. 

Yours &c 

John Cadwalader. 

No. 40. Colonel Clement Biddle to - — — . 

Dated 29th Deer 1776. 
We have returned with much honour from our Trenton expedi- 
tion having brought off about 750 Hessians i Lt. Col. 2 Majors, 
4 Captains, 15 Subalterns, 3 Standards, 6 Brass field Pieces and 
near 1000 Stand of Arms. 


We came on them by surprize at about 7 o'clock — their guard 
at the end of the town and their parties in town gave smart resist- 
ance for a while and they passed up the Creek back of the Meet- 
ing House where they formed and thought we should have had a 
smart engagement but they were by that time near surrounded 
& so push'd at all points that they surrendered with all their 
arms &c. 

Our officers and men behaved with most remarkable bravery, 
and by their activity and zeal they soon put a most honourable 
end to this very important affair. Indeed I never could conceive 
that one spirit should so universally animate both officers and 
men to rush forward into action. 

No. 41. Tench Tilghman to James Tilghman, Esq. 

Head Quarters Newtowx 27th Decemr 1776 
Hon" Sir: 

I have the pleasure to inform you that I am safe and well after 
a most successful Enterprise against three Regiments of Hessians 
consisting of about 1500 Men lying in Trenton, which was planned 
and executed under his Excellency's immediate command. Our 
party amounted to 2400 Men, we crossed the River at McKon- 
keys Ferry 9 Miles above Trenton the Night was excessively 
severe, both cold and snowey, which the Men bore without the 
least murmur. We were so much delayed in crossing the River, 
that we did not reach Trenton till eight OClock, when the divi- 
sion which the General headed in person, attacked the Enemy's 
out post. The other Division which marched the lower Road 
attacked the advanced post at Phil Dickenson's, within a few 
minutes after we began ours. Both parties pushed on with so 
much rapidity, that the Enemy had scarce time to form, our peo- 
ple advanced up to the Mouths of their Field pieces, shot down 
their Horses, and brought off the Cannon. About 600 run off 
upon the Bordenton Road the moment the Attack began, the 
remainder finding themselves surrounded laid down their Arms. 
We have taken 30 officers and 886 privates among the former 
Col° Rahls the Commandant who is wounded. The General left 
him and the other wounded Officers upon their parole, under their 
own Surgeons, and gave all the privates their Baggage. Our loss 
is only Cap' Washington and his Lieutenant slightly wounded 
and two privates killed and two wounded. If the Ice had not 


prevented Gen^ Ewing from crossing at Trenton Ferry, and Col° 
Cadwalader from doing the same at Bristol, we should have fol- 
lowed the Blow and drove every post below Trenton. The 
Hessians have laid all waste since the British Troops went 
away, the Inhabitants had all left the Town and their Houses 
were stripped and torn to pieces. The Inhabitants about the 
Country told us, that the British protections would not pass 
among the Hessians. I am informed that many people have of 
choice kept their Effects in Philad", supposing if Gerf Howe got 
possession that they would be safe, so they may be, if he only 
carries British Troops with him, but you may depend it is not in 
his power, neither does he pretend to restrain the Foreigners. I 
have just snatched time to scrawl these few lines by Col° Baylor, 
who is going to Congress — 

I am your most dutiful and affect — Son 

Tench Tilghman. 

No. 42. Extract of Letter from an Officer of Dis- 

(Generally believed to be Brigadier-General Lord Stirling, at Newtown, Bucks 
County, Pennsylvania, dated December 27, 1776.) 

This letter was published by the Council of Safety, and a copy 
was sent to the Congress of the United States : — 

It was determined, some days ago, that our army should pass 
over to Jersey, in three different places, and attack the men, and 
twenty brass field-pieces, with his Excellency Gen. Washington 
at their head, and Majors Gens. Sullivan and Greene in com- 
mand of two divisions, passed over on the night of Christmas, 
and about three o'clock, A. M. were on their march, by two 
routs, towards Trenton. The night was sleety, and the roads so 
slippery that it was day break when we were two miles from 
Trenton. But happily the enemy were not apprised of our de- 
sign, and our advanced party were on their guards at half a mile 
from the town, when Gen. Sullivan's and Gen. Greene's divisions 
soon came into the same road. Their guard gave our advanced 
party several smart fires, as we drove them ; but we soon got 
two field-pieces at play, and several others in a short time ; and 
one of our Colonels pushing down on the right while the others 
advanced on the left, into the town. The enemy, consisting of 


about fifteen hundred Hessians, under Col. Rohl, formed and 
made some smart fires from the musketry and six field-pieces, but 
our people pressed from every quarter, and drove them from their 
cannon. They retreated towards a field behind a piece of wood 
up the creek, from Trenton, and formed in two bodies, which I 
expected would have brought on a smart engagement from the 
troops, who had formed very near them, but at that instant, as I 
came in full view of them, from the back of the wood, with his 
Excellency General Washington, an officer informed him that the 
party had grounded their arms and surrendered prisoners. 

The others soon followed their example, except a part which 
had gone off in the hazy weather, towards Princeton, and a party 
of their light horse which made off on our first appearance. Too 
much praise cannot be given to the officers of every regiment. 
By their active and spirited behaviour, they soon put an honor- 
able issue to this glorious day. 

I was immediately sent off with the prisoners to M'Conkey's 
ferry, and have got about seven hundred and fifty safe in town 
and a few miles from here, on this side of the ferry, viz. one Lieu- 
tenant Colonel, two Majors, four Captains, Seven Lieutenants, 
and eight Ensigns. We left Colonel Rohl, the commandant 
wounded, on his parole, and several other officers and wounded 
men at Trenton. We lost but two of our men, that I can hear 
of, a few wounded, and one brave officer, Capt. Washington, who 
assisted in securing their artillery, shot in both hands. Indeed 
every officer and private behaved well, and it was a most fortu- 
nate day for our arms, which I the more rejoice at, having an 
active part in it. The success of this day will greatly animate 
our friends, and add fresh courage to our new army, which, when 
formed, will be sufficient to secure us from the depredations or 
insults of our enemy. 

Gen. Ewing's division could not pass at Trenton for the ice, 
which also impeded Gen. Cadwallader passing over with all his 
cannon and the militia, though part of his troops were over, and 
if the whole could have passed, we should have swept the coast 
to Philadelphia. We took three standards, six fine brass cannon, 
and about one thousand stands of arms. 

Published by order of Council of Safety. 

G. BiCKHAM, Sec. pro tem. 


No. 43. The Pennsylvania Evening Post, 

(December 31, 1776, also published the foregoing document and added this 


By an authentic account received this morning, the following 
is a list of prisoners taken, viz. : One Col. two Lieut. Cols, three 
Majors, four Captains, eight Lieuts, twelve Ensigns, two Surgeon 
Mates, ninety nine sergeants, twenty five drummers, nine musi- 
cians, twenty five servants, and seven hundred and forty privates. 

Philadelphia, Dec. 31. By the last advices from the Jersies, 
we learn the enemy are every where flying before our army, who 
frequently take small parties of them. Since the affair at Tren- 
ton, it is said, we have taken four hundred, amongst whom are 
several officers. ' 

Yesterday morning upwards of nine hundred Hessians, who 
were taken at Trenton, were brought to this city. The wretched 
condition of these unhappy men, most of whom, if not all, were 
dragged from their wives and families by a despotic and avari- 
cious prince, must sensibly affect every generous mind with the 
dreadful effects of arbitrary power. 

Last Monday seven of the lighthorse belonging to this city, 
took nine lighthorsemen from the enemy, near Princeton, without 
firing a gun. 

Last Thursday afternoon Col. Rohl died, at Trenton, of the 
wounds he received that morning. 

No. 44. Colonel Clement Biddle to Committee of Safety. 

Head Quarters Newtown 28 Decem'r 1776 
Sir : 

His Excellency, General Washington has commanded me to 
send forward the Prisoners taken at Trenton, to pass through 
Philadelphia to Lancaster and I have sent them with a Guard 
under the conduct of Capt. Murray (an officer of this State lately 
released from New York) with directions to furnish them Provi- 
sions and Quarters on the Road. . . . 

I have the pleasure to inform you that the Prisoners amount to 
near one thousand, that their Arms, six brass field pieces. Eight 
Standards or Colours and a number of Swords, Cartouch Boxes 
taken in this happy Expedition, are safely arrived at and near 
this place. If your Honourable Committee could by any means 


furnish Shoes & Stockings for our Troops it will be a great 
relief. . . . 

I am with great Respect your and the Councils most obedient 
and very Humble serv't 

Clement Biddle, 

D. Qu'r M'r Gen'l 

I am not alone in assuring you that the Inhabitants of Jersey 
of whom we had an opportunity of enquiring of the Behaviour of 
the Hessian Troops declare that their Officers & Soldiers treated 
them in general with more Lenity, than those of the British Troops 
w'ch Justice to our Prisoners, calls for an acknowledgement of, 
as false reports had been spread to the contrary. 
Y'r mo. ob. & h. s. 

C. B. 

On Public Service to the Hon'ble Thomas Wharton, Esq. Pre- 
sident of the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. 

No. 45. Lieutenant Patrick Duffy to Colonel Thomas 

M^Conkey's Ferry 28th Dec'r, 1776. 
Sir — 

I have the pleasure of informing you that I have yesterday 
arrived from Trenton, after a very fataguing (though successfull) 
engagement in which can assure you the Artillery got applause. 
I had the Honour of being detach'd up the Main Street in front 
of the Savages, without any other piece, and sustained the fire of 
Several gunns from the Houses on each side without the least 
loss must attribute my protection to the hand of Providence. We 
made Prisoners of about 900, together with the number killed 
which I cannot exactly ascertain, but we took 6 brass field pieces 
and a number of small arms, all which has been safely carried 
off. . . . 

Yr Very obedient Servant, 

Pat Duffy. 

P. S. Comp'ts to Capt. Courtney & Mr Turnbull am glad to 
hear of y'r Promotion to Colonell. 

Directed To Collonell Thomas Procter, of Artillery, Philadel- 


No. 46. Colonel Knox to his Wife. 

Delaware River, near Trenton 
Dec. 28, 1776 near 12 o'clock 

My Dearly Beloved Friend, — 

You will before this have heard of our success on the morning 
of the 26th instant. The enemy, by their superior marching, had 
obliged us to retire on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware, by 
which means we were obliged to evacuate or give up nearly all 
the Jerseys. Soon after retiring over the river, the preservation 
of Philadelphia was a matter exceedingly precarious — the force 
of the enemy three or four times as large as ours. However, 
they seemed content with their success for the present, and quar- 
tered their troops in different and distant places in the Jerseys. 
Of these cantonments Trenton was the most considerable. Tren- 
ton is an open town, situated nearly on the banks of the Dela- 
ware, accessible on all sides. Our army was scattered along the 
river for nearly twenty-five miles. Our intelligence agreed that 
the force of the enemy in Trenton was from two to three thou- 
sand, with about six field cannon, and that they were pretty secure 
in their situation, and that they were Hessians — no British 
troops. A hardy design was formed of attacking the town by 
storm. Accordingly a part of the army, consisting of about 2500 
or 3000 passed the river on Christmas night, with almost infinite 
difficulty, with eighteen field pieces. The floating ice in the river 
made the labor almost incredible. However, perseverance ac- 
complished what at first seemed impossible. About tw^o o'clock 
the troops were all on the Jersey side ; we then were about nine 
miles from the object. The night was cold and stormy ; it hailed 
with great violence ; the troops marched with the most profound 
silence and good order. They arrived by two routes at the same 
time, about half an hour after daylight, within one mile of the 
town. The storm continued with great violence, but was in our 
backs, and consequently in the faces of our enemy. About half 
a mile from the town was an advanced guard on each road, con- 
■sisting of a captain's guard. These we forced, and entered the 
town with them pell-mell ; and here succeeded a scene of war of 
which I had often conceived, but never saw before. The hurry, 
fright, and confusion of the enemy was (not) unlike that which 
will be when the last trump shall sound. They endeavoured to 


form in streets, the heads of which we had previously the posses- 
sion of with cannon and howitzers ; these, in the twinkling of an 
eye, cleared the streets. The backs of the houses were resorted 
to for shelter. These proved ineffectual : the musketry soon dis- 
lodged them. Finally they were driven through the town into an 
open plain beyond. Here they formed in an instant. During 
the contest in the streets measures were taken for putting an 
entire stop to their retreat by posting troops and cannon in such 
passes and roads as it was possible for them to get away by. 
The poor fellows after they were formed on the plain saw them- 
selves completely surrounded, the only resource left was to force 
their way through numbers unknown to them. The Hessians 
lost part of their cannon in the town ; they did not relish the pro- 
ject of forcing, and were obliged to surrender upon the spot, with 
all their artillery, six brass pieces, army colors, &c. A Colonel 
Rawle commanded, who was wounded. The number of prisoners 
was above 1200, including ofScers — all Hessians. There were 
few killed or wounded on either side. After having marched off 
the prisoners and secured the cannon, stores, &c. we returned to 
the place, nine miles distant, where we had embarked. Provi- 
dence seemed to have smiled upon every part of this enterprise. 
Great advantages may be gained from it if we take the proper 
steps. At another post we have pushed over the river 2000 men, 
today another body, and tomorrow the whole army will follow. 
It must give a sensible pleasure to every friend of the rights of 
man to think with how much intrepidity our people pushed the 
enemy, and prevented their forming in the town. His Excellency 
the General has done me the unmerited great honour of thanking 
me in public orders in terms strong and polite. This I would 
blush to mention to any other than to you, my dear Lucy; and I 
am fearful that even my Lucy may think her Harry possesses a 
species of little vanity in doing (it) at all. 

No. 47. Captain Thomas Forrest to Colonel Thomas 

M<^Co>.'Key's Ferry, 29th Dec'r 1776. 
Sir — 

Am happy in acquainting you that we have return'd from Tren- 
ton after defeating the Brass Caps and Crous coups and am now 
under marching orders on an other Expedition over the river, 


hope it may prove as Successful! as the last ; we have taken, ex- 
clusive of what were not able to march off, with a Compleat band 
of Musick, the number kill'd uncertain. The men are not able 
to move for want of Shoes and Watch Coats which I expect 
you '11 forward p bearer immediately, with Gunn Screws, and the 
Regimental Coats for such as has been before mentioned. . . . 
Yr Ob't Servant 

Thomas Forrest 

Comp'" of Brother Officers to Mr Courtney and TurnbuU — 
Directed To CoUonel Procter, of Artillery, Philadelphia — 

No. 48. Governor Tryon to Lord Germain. 

New York 31 Decemb'r 1776 
My Lord — 

The Rebels carrying off the Hessian Brigade under Coll : Rail 
'at Trenton, has given me more real chagrin, than any other cir- 
cumstance this war : the moment was critical, and I believe the 
Rebel Chiefs were conscious, if some stroke was not struck that 
would give life to their sinking cause, they should not raise an- 
other army. Unlucky as was this loss, I have received great 
comfort by the assurances Heister and Gen'l Kniphausen have 
given me (who are most sincerely and deeply mortified at the 
event) that the Rebels will not with all their arts be able to 
seduce the Hessian Prisoners from their allegiance to their Prince 
and duty to His Maj'ty. I trust, this tarnish to the Campaign, 
will in due season be wiped away by some brilliant enterprize of 
the King's forces who entertain the keenest sense of the insult. 

I am with all possible respect My Lord 

Your 's Lord'p's most obed't and very humble servant 

W Tryon. 

No. 49. Memorandum in General Robert Anderson's 
Letter Book 

(In reference to his father, Captain Richard Clough Anderson, Fifth regi- 
ment, Continental infantry). 

He was ordered on Christmas eve, 1776 to proceed to . . . 

and if he did not find any of the enemy's forces there, then to 

, and if he did not find them at either of the places named 


he was to go to Trenton where he would find them. His orders 
were to reconnoitre, to see where the enemy's outpost were, to 
get such information as he could about tliem, but to be very 
careful and not to bring on an engagement. 

Having gone to the places designated without finding the 
enemy, he advanced upon Trenton. The party came close upon 
the Hessian sentinel, who was marching on his post, bending his 
head down as he met the storm, which beat heavily in a driving 
snow in the faces of the patrol. He saw them about the same 
time that he was seen, and as he brought his gun to a charge and 
challenged, he was shot down. My father having now accom- 
plished the object of his mission, and knowing that the enemy's 
forces would be promptly turned out, and that an engagement 
which he had been ordered to avoid would ensue, ordered his 
company to countermarch, and marched them back towards his 
camp. He had not gone farbefore he saw, very much to his sur- 
prise, Washington's Army advancing toward him. As he was 
then in a narrow lane he ordered his company to withdraw one side 
into an adjoining field. The advance guard seeing a body of 
soldiers ahead, and supposing that they were the advance guard 
of the British forces, halted, and very soon an officer approached 
near enough to recognize them as American troops. General 
Washington approached and asked who was in command and 
where he had been. I have frequently heard my father remark 
that he never saw Gen^ Washington exhibit so much anger as he 
did when he told him where he had been and what he had done. 
He turned to Gen' S(tephen) and asked how he dared to send a 
patrol from camp without his authority, remarking " You sir, may 
have ruined all my plans, by having put them on their guard." 
He then addressed my father in a very calm and considerate 
manner and told him that as he and his men must be very much 
fatigued after such hard service, he should march in the van 
guard, when he would be less harrassed by the fatigue of the 

No. 50. Proclamation. 

The following advertisement was put up in the most public 
parts of the Jerseys : — 

His Excellency General Washington strictly forbids all the offi- 
cers and soldiers of the Continental army, of the militia and all 
recruiting parties, plundering any person whatsoever, whether 


Tories or others. The effects of such persons will be applied to 
public uses in a regular manner, and it is expected that humanity 
and tenderness to women and children will distinguish brave 
Americans, contending for liberty, from infamous mercenary rav- 
agers, whether British or Hessians. 

Go. Washington. 

Trentox, January i, 1777. 

No. 51. Captain William Hull, Seventh Connecticut 
Regiment, to Andrew Adams. 

Trenton, Jany ist 1777 
Dear Sir : 

Have but a moment which shall embrace with Pleasure to 
inform you of the present State of our Army and our late Success. 
After we had recruited a few days of a fatiguing March of more 
than 250 Miles (thro' all our Windings) Genl. Washington gave 
orders for us to be every way equiped for Action. On the Even- 
ing of the 25 th Ult. we were ordered to March to a ferry (McCon- 
key's) about twelve Miles from Trenton, where was stationed 
near two Thousand Hessians. As violent a Storm ensued of 
Hail & Snow as I ever felt. The Artillery and Infantry all were 
across the Ferry about twelve O'clock, consisting of only twenty 
one hundred principally New England Troops. In this Violent 
Storm we marched on for Trenton. Before Light in the Morn- 
ing we gained all the Roads leading from Trenton. The Genl. 
gave orders that every Officer's Watch should be set by his, and 
the Moment of Attack was fixed. Just after Light, we came to 
their out Guard, which fired upon us and retreated. The first 
Sound of the Musquetry and Retreat of the Guards animated the 
Men and they pushed on with Resolution and Firmness. Hap- 
pily the fire begun on every Side at the same instant, their Main 
body had just Time to form when there ensued a heavy Cannon- 
ade from our Field Pieces and a fine brisk and lively fire from 
our Infantry. This continued but a Short Time before the 
Enemy finding themselves flanked on every Side laid down their 
Arms. The Resolution and Bravery of our Men, their Order and 
Regulariety, gave me the highest Sensation of Pleasure. Genl. 
Washington highly congratulated the Men on next day in Genl. 
Orders, and with Pleasure observed, that he had been in Many 
Actions before, but always perceived some Misbehaviour in some 


individuals^ but in that Action he saw none. Pennsylvania itself 
is obliged to acknowledge the Bravery of New Eng'd Troops. I 
have a List from Head Quarters of the Killed and taken, which 
was taken the day after the Action, since which many more have 
been brought in ; i Col. wounded since dead, 2 Lieut. CoP taken, 
3 Majors, 4 Capts, 8 Lieuts, 12 Ens'ns, 92 Serg'ts, 9 Musicians, 
12 Drums, 25 Servants, 842 Privates, 2 Capt's killed, 2 Lieut's, 
killed, 50 privates. Six Brass Field Pieces, One Mortar and about 
1500 Stand of Arms. A large Number of Horses and avast 
Quantity of Plunder of every kind. And this, Sir, I will assure 
you with only the Loss of six or seven on our side, this is no 
Exaggeration but simple fact, 'tis impossible to describe the scene 
to you as it appeared. We immediately retreated across the 
River and did not get to our Tents till next Morning — two 
Nights and one day in as violent a Storm as I ever felt. What 
can't Men do when engaged in so noble a Cause. Our Men's 
Time Expired Yesterday, they have generally engaged to tarry 
six weeks longer. My company almost to a man. Orders have 
now come for us to march for Princetown. We have a Rumor 
that it was burned last night by the Enemy, who we suppose are 
about retreating. Compliments to Miss Adams & Children. 
Adieu and believe me to be sincerely yours, 

Wm Hull. 
To Andrew Adams, Litchfield, Conn. 

No. 52. Colonel John Haslet to C^sar Rodney. 

(The last letter he wrote. In possession of Mr. Caesar A. Rodney, of Wil- 
mington, Delaware.) 

Allentown January 2d 1777. 
This morning we were called up at 2 o'clock under a pretended 
alarm that we were to be attacked by the enemy but at daylight 
we were ordered to march for Trenton, and when we reached 
Crosswicks found that the brigade had gone. We reached Tren- 
ton about II o'clock, and found all the troops from our different 
posts in Jersey, collected and collecting there under General 
Washington himself ; and the regular troops were already properly 
disposed to receive the enemy, whose main body was then within 
a few miles and determined to dispossess us. Trenton stands 
upon the River Delaware, with a creek called Assunpink passing 
through the town across which there is a bridge. The enemy 


came down on the upper side of this creek, through the town, 
and a number of our troops were posted with Riflemen and artil- 
lery to oppose their approach. The main body of our army was 
drawn up on a plain below or on the lower side of the Assun- 
pink, near the bridge, and the main force of our Artillery was 
posted on the banks and high grounds along the creek in front 
of them. Gen. Mercer's brigade was posted about 2 miles up 
the creek, and the troops under Gen. Cadwalader were stationed 
in a field on the right about a mile from the town, on the main 
road, to prevent the enemy from flanking. We had five pieces 
of Artillery with our Division and about 20 more in the field, 
near, and at the town. Our numbers were about five thousand, 
and the enemy's about seven thousand. The attack began about 
2 o'clock and a heavy fire upon both sides, chiefly from the artil- 
lery, continued untill dark. At this time the enemy were left in 
possession of the upper part of the town, but we kept possession 
of the bridge, altho' the enemy attempted several times to carry 
it but were repulsed each time with great slaughter. After sunset 
this afternoon the enemy came down in a very heavy column to 
force the bridge. The fire was very heavy and the Light troops 
were ordered to fly to the support of that important post, and as 
we drew near, I stepped out of the front to order my men to 
close up ; at this time Martinas Sipple was about lo sets behind 
the man next in front of him. I at once drew my sword and 
threatened to cut his head off if he did not keep close, he then 
sprang forward and I returned to the front. The enemy were 
soon defeated and retired and the American army also retired to 
the woods, where they encamped and built up fires. I then had 
the roll called to see if any of our men were missing and Mar- 
tinas ^ was not to be found, but Lieut. Mark McCall informed 
me that immediately upon my returning to the head of the col- 
umn, after making him close up, he fled out of the field. We lost 
but few men ; the enemy considerably more. It is thought Gen. 
Washington did not intend to hold the upper part of the town. 

1 This man appears again as a soldier in the 7th company. Captain 
John Rhodes, of Colonel David Hall's Delaware regiment. (See 
Whiteley's Revolutionary Soldiers of Delaware, p. 30.) 


No. 53. Commissioned Officers of Rall's Brigade, Dec. 


Rail Regiment. 

Colonel, Johann Gottlieb Rail ; Lieutenant-Colonel, Balthasar 
Brethauer ; Major, Johann Jost Matthaus ; Captains, Johann 
Heinrich Brubach and Heinrich Ludwig Boking ; Lieutenants, 
Johann Heinrich Sternickel, Carl Andreas Kinen, Gregorius 
Salzmann and Johannes Stroebel ; Ensigns, Ludwig Kinen, Jacob 
Lebrecht Fleck, Carl W'ilhelm Kleinschmidt and Johann Georg 

Von Lossberg Regiment. 

Lieutenant-Colonel, Francis SchefEer ; Major, Ludwig August 
von Hanstein ; Captains, Johann Friedrich von Riess, Friedrich 
Wilhelm von Benning, Ernst Eberhard von Altenbockum and 
Adam Christoph Steding ; Lieutenants, Heinrich Reinhard Hille, 
Georg Christian Kimm, Ernst Christian Schwabe, Georg Her- 
mann Zoll, Ludwig Wilhelm Keller, Wilhelm Christian Miiller 
and Jacob Piel ; Ensigns, Christian August von Hobe, Friedrich 
Franz Grabe, Friedrich von Zengen and Friedrich Christoph 

I'on Knyphausen Regiment. 

Major, Friedrich Ludwig von Dechow ; Captains, Bernhard 
von Biesenrodt, Ludwig Wilhelm von Lowenstein, Barthold Hel- 
frich von Schimmelpfennig and Jacob Baum ; Lieutenants, Carl 
Ludwig von Geyso, Christian Sobbe, Andreas \^'iederhold, Nicho- 
las Vaupell, Werner von Ferry, Wilhelm Ludwig von Romrodt ; 
Ensigns, Carl Friedrich Fiihrer, Wilhelm von Drach and Heinrich 


Lieutenant, Friedrich Wilhelm von Grothausen. 

Lieutenants, Friedrich Fischer and Johannes Engelhardt. 
Judge Advocate, Friedrich Moeller. 

[The spelling of the German names printed on this and following 
pages is often obviously inaccurate, but is given as in the records.] 


No. 54. General Mercer to Colonel Durkee. 

25 Dcr. 1776. 


You are to see that your men have three days provisions ready 
cooked before 12 o'clock this forenoon — the whole fit for duty 
except a Serjeant and six men to be left with the baggage, and to 
parade precisely at four in the afternoon with their arms, accou- 
trements & ammunition in the best order, with their provisions 
and blankets — you will have them told off in divisions in which 
order they are to march — eight men a breast, with the officers 
fixed to their divisions from which they are on no account to 
separate — no man is to quit his division on pain of instant pun- 
ishment — each officer is to provide himself with a piece of white 
paper stuck in his hat for a field mark. You will order your 
men to assemble and parade them in the valley immediately 
over the hill on the back of McConkey's Ferry, to remain there 
for farther orders — a profound silence is to be observed, both 
by officers and men, and a strict and ready attention paid to 
whatever orders may be given — in forming the Brigade Co. 
Durkee takes the right, Co. Stone left, Co. Bradley on the left of 
Co. Durkee & Co. Rawlings on the Right of Co. Stone — the 
Line to form & march from the Right — Co. Hutchinson to form 
by themselves. 

Your obt s'v't 

H. Mercer. 

No. 55. Hessian Outposts of Trenton. 

(The initials K denote regt. von Knyphausen ; L, von Lossberg; R, Rail.) 
Referring particularly to Lieutenant Piel's map, page 124 ante, 
B marks the spot on the Pennington road where the picket was 
stationed on Christmas night. The personnel, as far as shown by 
the records, has been already given. 

F is the post on the River road. It was the residence of 
General Dickinson then and now known as "The Hermitage," 
being to-day a part of the homestead of the Atterbury estate. 
This picket was called the Yager post and was in charge of Lieu- 
tenant Friedrich Wilhelm von Grothausen with two non-commis- 
sioned officers, Sergeant Georg Wilhelm Hassell and Corporal 
Franz Bauer, and fifty yagers. 


H is the post at the Fox Chase Tavern kept by Mrs. Joseph 
Bond on the Maidenhead or Brunswick Road. This was a strong 
picket, the principal one of the cantonment, and from this point 
the patrols started out on the route D toward the left wing E of 
the same picket and the various stations of guards C\ C^, C, etc. 
to post B, thence to post F and back again through the chain of 
sentries to the tavern above mentioned. As we have said, this 
picket post consisted of one commissioned ofificer, one non-com- 
missioned officer and about seventy-five men, and was at this 
critical time in charge of Ensign Franz Friedrich Grabe of the 
von Lossberg regiment. Captain Johann Heinrich Brubach of 
the Rail regiment was also there on Christmas night as inspector 
of the guards, Lieutenant-Colonel Brethauer having been relieved. 
The rest of the men so far as the records give their names were : 
Sergeant Reinhard (K), Drummer Christian Schlieder and Fusi- 
lier Curt Anhagen (L), Grenadier Casper Brede (R), Fusilier 
Christoph Bucker (L), Fusiliers Direll, Doer and Fenner (K), 
Grenadier Johannes Gerhardt (R), Fusilier Heinrich Goebell (K), 
Fusilier Johannes Goebell (L), Fusilier Werner Hahn (K), Fusi- 
lier Friedrich Hohbein (L), Grenadier Jacob Koch (R), Fusiliers 
Diedrich Kruger, Philipp Matthias and Johannes Heinrich 
Mohme (L), FusiUer Reinhard (K), Grenadier Heinrich Rosb 
(R), Fusilier Anton Schenck (L), Grenadiers Philip Wernick and 
Nicholas Wicke (R). 

At the post K, the tavern formerly owned by Rensselaer Wil- 
liams, there were one commissioned officer, five non-commissioned 
officers and twenty-two men on Christmas night. This force was 
then commanded by Ensign Heinrich Zimmermann of the von 
Borch company of the von Knyphausen regiment. There was a 
guard composed of Sergeant Dietzell and nine men in a barn 
below the Ferry road, and a guard of Sergeant Diemer and nine 
more men at the "Doctor House." A patrol from the tavern 
visited these small posts every hour during the night. The fol- 
lowing is a list of Ensign Zimmermann's command on Christmas 
night : Sergeant Christian Diemer (L), Sergeant Jacob Dietzell 
(R), Sergeant Hamell (K), Corporal Johannes Wagener (L), 
Corporal Johannes Wolfskeil (R), Drummer Bechtell (K), Fusi- 
liers Carl Baake and Heinrich Brath (L), Fusiliers Diebell, Ditter 
and Doering (K), Grenadiers Caspar Fey, Johannes Foerster 
and Martin Fuhrmann (R), Fusilier Hattendorf (K), Fusilier 


Hendrick Holste (L), Grenadier Jost Koehler (R), Fusilier 
Knieriem (K), Grenadiers Dietricli Koch, Christoph Loersch 
and Christopher Scheffer (R), Fusihers Schreiber and Schroder 
(K), Fusiliers Wilhelm Schweibe, Heinrich Seehaussen and 
Friedrich Tegetmeyer (L), Grenadier Heinrich Ulrich (R). 

At the bridge over the Assunpink Creek there was a guard 
of one non-commissioned officer and eighteen men. From this 
bridge a Small patrol was compelled to go to Doctor Bryant's 
residence every half hour during the night. The guard was at 
the flour mill on the south side of the bridge. In 1680 Mahlon 
Stacy had built on this site a mill of hewn logs one and one- 
half stories high. In 17 14 Judge William Trent had purchased 
this property and had built a two-story stone mill. This was 
used by the Hessians as a commissary storehouse. The men in 
charge of this guard were all from the von Knyphausen regiment, 
Sergeant Johannes Mueller of the von Borck company being the 
ranking non-commissioned officer. In the middle of the stone 
bridge over the Assunpink creek was a hut in which a sentinel 
stood and another sentinel was stationed just outside of the mill. 

Besides the sergeant just referred to, the following men were 
at the mill on Christmas night : Fusiliers Caspar Bambeg, Georg 
Berg, Engeland, Kurtz and Schultz (K). 

Next to the mill was George Bright's two-story stone bakery, 
and just beyond that Jonathan Richmond's tavern. In the wall 
of the bakery was embedded a rough sandstone block with the 
inscription " G. B. 1756." This has been seen in position by 
many now living. In the bakery were stationed : Fusiliers Hen- 
ninghausen, Mueller, Schmerer and Stroehler (K). 

The headquarters guard-house was at the residence of Pontius 
Delare Stille, then on the corner of Church alley and King street, 
and now still standing on the southeast corner of Warren and 
Perry streets. It was nearly opposite Colonel Rail's quarters, 
and on Christmas night the guard was commanded by Lieutenant 
Johann Heinrich Sternickel (R). The German records give us 
the names of only four of the watchguard : Corporal Friedrich 
Eberth (L), Grenadier Johannes Lindermann (R), Fusilier Hein- 
rich Rohrkoster (L), Fusilier Daniel Schmidt (K). 

In addition to these picket stations there was a strong post 
midway between Trenton and Bordentown at the drawbridge over 
the Crosswicks Creek. The main station of this outpost was at 


the drawbridge, and at the time of the battle it was commanded 
by Lieutenant Johannes Stroebel (R), who had with him twenty- 
four men. Lieutenant Heinrich Reinhard Hille (L) was stationed 
a short distance from the drawbridge on the road to Allentown 
in charge of twenty soldiers. On the road to Trenton and about 
a quarter of a mile north from the drawbridge Captain Heinrich 
Ludwig Boking (R), with one non-commissioned officer and 
twenty men, occupied three farmhouses^ and a mile nearer Tren- 
ton Lieutenant Wilhelm Ludwig von Romrodt of the von Borck 
company of the von Knyphausen regiment had a small detach- 
ment of two non-commissioned officers and fifteen men. The 
entire number of soldiers at the post of the drawbridge was four 
commissioned officers and eighty-two men. These men had left 
Trenton about noon on December 24 for a forty-eight hours' tour 
of duty at the drawbridge, and of course the surprise at Trenton 
on December 26 found them still at their posts. It appears from 
one statement that Colonel Rail and his Adjutant, Lieutenant 
Piel, visited this picket on two occasions during the occupancy of 
Trenton, but other accounts deny that he visited any picket posts. 

The detachment of Lieutenant Stroebel consisted of : Sergeant 
Helmerich, Corporals Ahlhaursen and Heidmuller, Drummer 
Christoph Hattendorff and Fusilier Wilhelm Barthels (L) ; Gren- 
adier Heinrich Baumbach (R) ; Fusiliers Christian Grundmeyer, 
Curth Herding, Friedrich Holsti, Heinrich Holste, Carl Laescke, 
Friedrich Lehmkuhe, Friedrich Lucke, Herman Matthias, Otto 
Mayer, Conrad Raabe, Conrad Rohmer, Christoph Schmoe, Sie- 
mon Schultz, Otto Schwacke and Julius Seemele (L) ; Grenadier 
Heinrich Sirbert (R) ; Fusiliers Carl Warsmith and Balthaser 
Weber (L). 

The detachment of Lieutenant Heinrich Reinhard Hille of the 
drawbridge picket was : Drummer Mueller ; Fusiliers Beetz, 
Joachim Bichard, Biesse, Wilhelm Conrad, Curth, Eisenach, Wie- 
gand, Goebell, Jackell and Heinrich Krengell (K) ; Grenadier 
Nicholas Landgrebe (R) ; Fusiliers Heinrich Melchior, Ochse, 
Ruhl, Schreiber, Schrenck, Seitz, Stock, Wilke and Zeiss (K). 

The detachment of Captain Heinrich Ludwig Boking, the 
senior officer of the drawbridge picket, was as follows : Sergeant 
Wilhelm Kreiss, Drummer Heinrich Briell, Grenadiers Conrad 
Arnd, Georg Draube, Andreas Fuhrmann, Conrad Gerth, Michael 
Giese, Caspar Gundlach, Assmath Heiter, Philip Himmelreich, 


Christoph Jordan, Urban Mueller, Johannes Nultejo, Johannes 
Pfliging, Johannes Reinbold, Heinrich Reitz, Heinrich Rierch- 
hart, Adam Ritter, Henricus Scheffer, Herman Wagner and 
Johannes Wissmann (R). 

The picket commanded by Lieutenant Wilhelm Ludwig von 
Romrodt, and stationed on the road leading from the drawbridge 
to Trenton, was composed of: Corporals Nicholas Tenner and 
Schmidt (K) ; Grenadiers Wilhelm Andress and Adam Back- 
hauss (R) ; Fusiliers Heinrich Bodensieg and Heinrich Buddie 
(L) ; Fusiliers Heinrich Geisell, Gottschalk, Homberger, Koeh- 
ler and Johannes Muench (K) ; Grenadier Heinrich Nadler (R) ; 
Fusilier Peter (K) ; Grenadiers Conrad Brassier, Johannes Rea- 
ther (R) ; Fusilier Conrad Steinhard (K) ; Grenadier Georg 
Zange (R). 

No. 56. Hessians who escaped Capture. 
Rail Regiment. 

List of the men of the Rail regiment in the affair at Trenton 
who were not captured : the initials denote their companies, as 
Matthaus (M), Poking (B), Body (By), Kohler (K) : — 

Ensign Ludwig Kinen (M), Sergeants Martin Appell (B), Nich- 
olas Gundlack (K), Georg Keuthe (By), Johannes H. Rueppell 
(B), Andreas Schneider (By) ; Corporals Matthaus (M), Ludwig 
Hordes (B), Heinrich Koch (M), Wilhelm Roese (K), Heinrich 
Schotte (M) and Siemion ^^'eltner (K) ; Drummers Nicholas 
Bindernagell (B), Martin Fiant (B) and Christian Franke (B) ; For- 
ager Heinrich Giesselmann (B), Forager Georg Schilling (By) ; Sur- 
geon Kuhlmann (M) ; Grenadiers Johannes Amelung (By), Engel- 
hard Bartell (By), Henricus Bartscher (By), Johannes Behnert 
(K), Johannes Bernhardy (B), Rudolph Bettenhausen (M), Justus 
Biermann (B), Johannes Bolte (B), Georg Bretthauer (By), Jacob 
Bruckman (By), Peter Deisserath (B), Christoph Diegemann (M), 
Conrad Doring (By), Georg Dornemann (M), Heinrich Emloth 
(K), Heinrich Engell (By), Johannes Erchelenz (B), Paul Ernest 
(M), Johannes Etzell (K), Georg Ewald (B), Ludwig Ewald 
(By), Johannes Giese (M), Georg Goebell (By), Heinrich Goertell 
(By), Jacob Gross (By), Peter Gundlach (By), Christoph Guthe 
(By), Adam Haensell (B), Georg Hausler (K), Caspar Hechenthal 
(B), Conrad Herboldt (B), Conrad Hertzog (By), Churt Hilgen- 
berg (By), Georg Homburg (M), Heinrich Horstmann (B), Martin 


Kahrsbach (B), Samuel Kilmer (By), Georg Kothe (K), Joseph 
Kothe (K), Johannes Knopfel (K), Wilhelm Kreutzberg (M), 
Friedrich Loenier (B), Christoph Ludolph (By), Sylas May (B), 
Heinrich Meyard (B), Conrad Meybert (By), Diedrich Mueller (B), 
Johannes ^Mueller (Kj, Heinrich Neumeyer (B), Georg Neurath 
(B), Caspar Noll (By), Georg Nolte (M), Johannes Nolte, Sen. (B), 
Friedrich Orth (K), Alexander Paul (By), Christian Poepler (B), 
Heinrich Rang (M), Ernst Riel (M), Daniel Riemann (B), David 
Rietze (B), Jost Roeddijer (M), Ludwig Roeddijer (K), Johannes 
Rose (M), Heinrich Schacht (B), Heinrich Scheffer (By), Ludwig 
Scheffer (By), Conrad Schehlhaase (B), Johannes Scherpf (B), Jo- 
hannes Schultze(By), Georg Schwartz (M), Caspar Schweitzer (By), 
Johannes Seeger (M), Wilhelm Siemon (K), Johannes Signer (K), 
Christian Ulrich (M), Georg Umbach (By), Georg Vocheurath 
(K), Conrad Vogeler (K), Christoph Vogeler (K), Arnold Wass- 
math (M), Caspar Wenert (M) and Christoph Wiegand (B). 

This list (of I officer and 99 men) was prepared in Philadel- 
phia, April 6, 1778. All of these men went to Bordentown ex- 
cept Drummer Bindernagell and Grenadier Loenier (B), who in 
some way joined Captain Baum of the von Knyphausen regi- 
ment, and wandered off with him to Princeton. 

(There is no statement in the documents in Germany as to the 
number of men of the von Lossberg regiment who made good 
their escape, although Corporal Wilhelm Hardung of the body 
company testified that he succeeded in eluding capture.) 

Von Ktiyphausen Regiment. 

Roster of the men of the von Knyphausen regiment (50 offi- 
cers and 75 men) at Trenton. Initials denote Minnigerode (M), 
Body (By), Borck (Bk), Biesenrodt (Bt), Dechow (D) : — 

Field Preacher Wilhelm Bauer; Captains Jacob Baum and 
Barthold Helfrich von Schimmelpfennig ; Lieutenants Nicholas 
Vaupell and Carl Ludwig von Geyso ; Sergeants Eckhard (M) 
and Heinrich Prinz (Bt) ; Corporals Heeland (M), Hopiann (By), 
Leymann (Bk), Ruhl (D), Schwalm (By), Spertzell (Bt), Stumpf 
(D), von Dalwigk (Bt) and Yager (D) ; Drummers Justus Aune 
(Bt), Ashmann (By), Froehlich (D), Abraham May (Bt) ; Farriers 
Crausse (Bk), Wiegand (Mj ; Fusiliers Abrecht (By), Johannes 
Arnth (Bt), Bastsen (By), Friedrich Becker (Bk), Heinrich Becker 


(Bt), Werner Blith (Bt), Johannes Berg (Bk), Boeth (D), Heinrich 
Bonn (Bk), Johannes Claus (Bt), Corell (D), Heinrich Dipp (Bk), 
Doehnhard (D), Dorst (D), Heinrich Eisenach (Bk), Engeland, 
Sen. (D), Ernst (By), Adam Eueller (D), Helwig Fanner (By), 
Heinrich Grass (Bk), Johannes Hamell (Bt), Andreas Hass (Bt), 
Georg Haust (Bt), Hech (By), Conrad Heiderich (Bk), Heine- 
mann (D), Kitz (D), Johannes Klippert (Bt), Kochsen (By), Knaaf 
(D), Kreuther (M), Caspar Loos (Bt), Luckhard (By), Muench 
(D), Conrad Muhling (Bk), May (M), Menges (D), Johannes 
Rhein (Bt), Johannes Riebeling (Bt), Johannes Roeth (Bk), Rud- 
wig (By), Georg Ruppert (Bk), Schmeiss (M), Georg Schmidt 
(D), Schreiber (M), Johannes Schwalm (By), Johannes Schwalm 
(Bk), Heinrich Seyl (Bt), Stauffenberg (D), Conrad Stein (Bt), 
Viehmann (D), Vogell (D), Heinrich Volker (Bt), Ciriacus Wag- 
ner (Bk), Jacob Wagner (Bt), Georg Weckesser (Bt), Yaeger (D) 
and Zulanf (M). 

Regiment of Artillery. 

April 10, 1778, Lieutenant-Colonel Hans Heinrich Eitel, com- 
manding officer of the Hessian regiment of artillery, and at that 
time on duty in Philadelphia, prepared a list of his men (i officer 
and 16 men) who had escaped capfure in the surprise at Trenton : 

Lieutenant Johannes Engelhardt ; Bombardiers Heinrich Ide 
and Johannes Humberties Westerburg ; Artillerists Bautzer, Dil- 
forth, Geisse, Heckert, Korn, Christian Kuhn,' Kulm, Loelekes, 
Muench, Rasch, Ruhl, Schmeermund, Zahn, Zaun. 

A small guard oi ten men who went to Princeton with baggage 
on Christmas day, of course took no part in the fight. They may 
be said to have escaped. Their names were : — 

Corporal Heinrich Grebe (M), Grenadiers Johannes Brawn 
(M), Bernard Loose (By), Georg Hesse (K) and Wilhelm Wim- 
melmann (M), all of Rail regiment ; Fusiliers Koch, Jr. (By), 

^ Christian Kuhn, a soldier of gigantic stature, after escaping from 
the Trenton battle, appears to have deserted the Hessian Corps, for 
later on in the war he joined Captain Zebulon M. Pike's company of 
Colonel Stephen Moylan's Fourth regiment. Continental dragoons, and 
subsequently was discharged therefrom on account of a sabre cut on 
his arm. Under Act of Congress, August 11, 1790, he was placed on 
the New Jersey Invalid Pension Roll as Christian Koon, spelled also 
Khun, Kuhn and Coon, and died January 23, 1823, at Montgomery, 
Orange County, New York. 


Nicholas Luckhard (D), Ochse (M), Jacob Schmidt (M) and 
Schumacher (D), all of von Knyphausen regiment. 

No. 57. Return of Prisoners taken at Trenton 

December 26, 1776, by the Army under the Command of General 



























Landspatch . . , 



Knyphausen . 










Rohl . 

































6 dble fortifyed Brass three pound's with carreages compleat. 

3 ammunition Waggons, As many Muskets, Bayonets, Cartouch Boxes and 
Swords as there are prisoners. 12 Drums. 

4 Colours. 

No. 58. Hessian Prisoners of War. 

List of the Commissioned and Non-Commissioned Officers, Drum- 
mers and Privates of the Grenadier Regiment of Rall, now 
Prisoners of War. 


Companies' Names. 






'e . 












Body Company 

Lieutenant-Colonel Kohler . . . 
Lieutenant-Colonel Brethauer . . . 

Major Matthaus . 

Captain Bbking . ... 









Total . . .... 







Middle and under Staff, 
I Adjutant. 4 Hautboys. 

D. Brethauer, Lieutenant-Colonel. 



List of. the Commissioned and Non-Commissioned Officers, Drum- 
mers AND Privates of the Regiment of von Lossberg, now Pris- 
oners of War. 




Companies' Names. 


















Body Company . . . . . 







Lieutenant-Colonel Scheffer .... 








Captain von Altenbockum ... 







Major von Hanstein . 






Colonels — vacant . . . 













T Adjutant. 

Middle and under Staff, 
I Drum Major. 

F. Scheffer, 

5 Hautboys. 
Lieutenant- Colonel. 

List of the Commissioned and Non-Commissioned Officers, Drum- 
mers AND Privates of the Regiment von Knyphausen, now Pris- 
oners of War. 


Companies' Names. 

Body Company . 

Colonel von Borck 

Lieutenant-Colonel von Minnigerode 

Major von Dechow 

Captain von Biesenrodt 






Middle and under Staff. 
I Adjutant. i Judge. i Hautboy. 

VON Biesenrodt, Captain. 


List of the several detachments of Artillery belonging to the 
Regiments of von Lossberg, von Knyphausen and Rall, taken 
IN the action at Trenton, the 26th of December, 1776, and 
NOW remaining Prisoners of War. 




Names of the Detachments 




















Of the Regiment von Lossberg . 
Of the Regiment von Knyphausen 
Of the Regiment Rall . 











Note. — That exclusive of the above-mentioned prisoners, there are 3 Gun- 
ners wounded, and 2 Gunners sick, who remained as Prisoners at Trenton. 

F. Fischer, Lieat. of Artillery. 
Philadelphia the 5th January 1777. 

Postscript. We cannot answer for the exactness of these Lists, 
because the Night before the Troops have marched to Lancaster, 
some Privates have joined them. Our request to remain with the 
Subalterns and Privates and to march along with them to Lancas- 
ter, having been denied. We are going this day towards Balti- 

Philadelphia 6th January 1777. 

No. 59. Roster of Officers of Rall's Brigade. 

The roster of officers of Rail's brigade and their condition at 
the close of the Trenton battle may be stated thus : — 

Rail Regiment. 

Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rall, severely wounded, paroled, and 
died in Trenton, December 27, 1776; Lieutenant-Colonel Bal- 
thasar Brethauer, prisoner and died while a prisoner of war; 
Major Johann Jost Matthaus, prisoner ; Captain Johann Heinrich 
Brubach, prisoner and died while a prisoner of war; Captain 
Heinrich Ludwig Boking, escaped ; Lieutenant Johann Heinrich 


Sternickel, wounded, paroled and died while a paroled prisoner 
of war in Trenton ; Lieutenant Carl Andreas Kinen, prisoner 
(he was also suffering from a wound received at Fort Washing- 
ton) ; Lieutenant Gregorius Salzmann, paroled in Trenton and 
remained there sick for many months ; Lieutenant Johannes 
Stroebel, escaped ; Ensign Ludwig Kinen, in Bordentown at the 
time of the fight ; Ensign Jacob Lebrecht Fleck, prisoner ; En- 
sign Carl Wilhelm Kleinschmidt, acting as adjutant of the regi- 
ment, prisoner ; Ensign Johann Georg Schroeder, prisoner. 

Von Lossberg Regiment. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Scheffer, prisoner ; Major Ludwig 
August von Hanstein, prisoner ; Captain Johann Friedrich von 
Riess, killed ; Captain Ernst Eberhard von Altenbockum, badly 
wounded, paroled in Trenton ; but he soon rejoined his regiment, 
probably exchanged, and did not sign the parole of December 
27'*"; Captain Adam Christoph Steding, prisoner ; Captain Fried- 
rich Wilhelm von Benning, killed ; Lieutenant Heinrich Rein- 
hard Hille, escaped ; Lieutenant Georg Christian Kimm, killed ; 
Lieutenant Ernst Christian Schwabe, wounded, paroled and left 
in Trenton ; Lieutenant Ludwig Wilhelm Keller, prisoner, died 
at Dumfries, "Virginia, October 6, 1777, prisoner of war; Lieu- 
tenant Georg Hermann Zoll, acting as adjutant of the regiment, 
wounded, paroled and left in Trenton ; Lieutenant Wilhelm 
Christian Miiller,, prisoner; Lieutenant Jacob Piel, acting as 
adjutant of the brigade, prisoner ; Ensign Christian August von 
Hobe, wounded and taken prisoner; Ensign Friedrich Franz 
Grabe, prisoner ; Ensign Friedrich von Zengen, prisoner ; En- 
sign Friedrich Christoph Hendorff, prisoner, but did not sign the 
parole of December 27"'. 

Vo7i Knyphausen Regiment. 
Major Friedrich Ludwig von Dechow, badly wounded and died 
in Trenton December 27, 1776; Captain Bernhard von Biesen- 
rodt, prisoner ; Captain Ludwig Wilhelm von Lowenstein, pris- 
oner; Captain Barthold Helfrich von Schimmelpfennig, escaped ; 
Captain Jacob Baum, escaped ; Lieutenant Christian Sobbe, act- 
ing as adjutant of the regiment, prisoner ; Lieutenant Andreas 
Wiederhold, prisoner, but did not sign the parole of December 
27*'' ; Lieutenant Carl Ludwig von Geyso, wounded and escaped ; 


Lieutenant Nicholas Vaupell, escaped ; Lieutenant Werner von 
Ferry, prisoner, but did not sign the parole of December 30* 
because probably he signed one of a similar kind when he had 
permission to visit Trenton ; Lieutenant Wilhelm Ludwig von 
Romrodt, escaped ; Ensign Carl Friedrich Fuhrer, prisoner, but 
signed a separate parole from the rest of the officers. It was 
said that he joined the American army ; Ensign Heinrich Zim- 
mermann, escaped ; Ensign Wilhelm von Drach, prisoner. 

Lieutenant Friedrich Fischer, prisoner ; Lieutenant Johannes 
Engelhardt, escaped. 

Lieutenant Friedrich Wilhelm von Grothausen, escaped, but 
mortally wounded in Trenton, January 2, 1777, and died soon 
afterward in Princeton ; Judge Advocate Friedrich Moeller, 

The German records at Marburg give us some personal history 
of a few of these officers, related by themselves under oath, and 
it will not be amiss to record it here. It shows many of them 
to have been veterans in war and to have entered military life at 
a very early age. 

Rail Regiment. 

Major Johann Jost Matthaus, 58 years of age, was born at 
Schwarzenberg. At the age of 19 he served in the regiment 
Prinz Carl, then in the von Hugne regiment, and was finally com- 
missioned in the Rail regiment. He was married. 

Captain Heinrich Ludwig Boking, 35 years old, was born in 
Cassel, and joined the army at 17 years of age. He was married. 

Lieutenant Carl Andreas Kinen, 19 years of age, was born at 
Dillenburg. He had been in service for three years, first in the 
regiment von Mirbach, and then in the Rail regiment. He had 
been wounded November 16, 1776, at the assault on Fort Wash- 
ington, and had come to Trenton with his regiment, though he 
had done no duty with it on account of these wounds. While 
trying to escape over the bridge in the fight, he had been cap- 
tured with others on Queen street between Second and Front 

Lieutenant Johannes Stroebel, 43 years old, was born at Nie- 


der Hessen, and had been in the Hessian service since the year 

Ensign Ludwig Kinen was born in the same village as his 
brother Lieutenant Kinen, and was one year younger than that 
officer. He had entered the army at 16 years of age. 

Ensign Jacob Lebrecht Fleck, 23 years old, was born at Hom- 
burg, had joined the von Donop regiment when he was 17 years 
of age, spent a year therein, and was then transferred to the Rail 
regiment for duty. 

Ensign Johann Georg Schroeder, 22 years old, was born at 
Cassel. This was his first year of service. 

Von Lossberg Regiment. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Scheffer, 54 years of age, was born 
at Hermsdorf, had been in service thirty-five years, and was a 
married man. 

Major Ludwig August von Hanstein was born at Obernhof, 
was married, and had been twenty-eight years in the army, first 
in the von Donop regiment, then in the Erbprinz, and finally 
in the von Lossberg regiment. His age at this time was 46 years. 

Captain Ernst Eberhard von Altenbockum, 40 years of age, 
was the commander of the company which bore his name. He 
was born at Courland, was unmarried, and had spent twenty- 
two years in the Hessian service. 

Captain Adam Christoph Steding, 39 years of age, commanded 
the von Loos company in this regiment. He was born in Fisch- 
beck, and had entered military life at 16 years of age. He was 

Captain Johann Friedrich von Riess was the son of Friedrich 
Jacob von Riess of Stallburg. He was born in Frankfort-on-the- 
Main in the year 1745. His family came from Cassel, and were 
owners of the salt mines at Allendorf. He began his military 
life as a lieutenant in the Nassau Weilburg regiment, Upper 
Rhenanian, and then received his promotion to a captaincy in 
the von Lossberg regiment, only to meet his death as heretofore 

Captain Friedrich Wilhelm von Benning of the von Lossberg 
regiment appears in the German records as a first lieutenant in 
the Leib regiment in the year 1766. He remained in this office 
until 1773, when the von Lossberg regiment was organized, and 


then he was made a staff captain therein. In this commission he 
came to America, and received his death wound at the head of 
his company. 

Lieutenant Heinrich Reinhard Hille, 22 years old, was born in 
Rinteln, and for nearly two years had been in service in Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Scheffer's company. 

Lieutenant Ernst Christian Schwabe was also born at Rinteln. 
He had been in the body company of this regiment for sixteen 
years, and was 30 years old at the time of the battle. 

Lieutenant Georg Hermann Zoll was born in the same village 
as Lieutenant Schwabe and Lieutenant Hille. He was 29 years 
of age, unmarried, and had been twelve years in service. 

Lieutenant Wilhelm Christian Miiller, 27 years of age, was 
born in Ziegenhain. He had been in Major von Hanstein's com- 
pany for nearly eleven years, and had previously served for two 
years in the regiment Prinz Carl. 

Lieutenant Jacob Piel, 34 years old, was born in Bremen, and 
had been in service in Major von Hanstein's company for four- 
teen years. He was not married. 

Lieutenant Georg Christian Kimm appears as an ensign in the 
Hessian regiment von Barthold in 1766. When the von Loss- 
berg regiment was formed in 1773, Kimm was made a second 
lieutenant in that organization. In 1776 he was promoted to be 
a first lieutenant, which rank he held when he fell mortally 
wounded in the streets of Trenton. He died on the evening of 
the battle. 

Lieutenant Christian August von Hobe was born in Mecklen- 
burg, had been in the Colonel von Loos company for six years, 
and was 22 years old. 

Ensign Friedrich Franz Grabe was born in Rinteln, was 17 
years of age, and had been four years in the German army. 

Ensign Friedrich von Zengen was born in Bonenburg, was 19 
years old, and had been in service in the body company for four 

Ensign Friedrich Christoph Hendorff, 30 years of age, was 
born at Rhinefels, and had been in service for eight years, first 
in the Hessian Hussar corps, and since February, 1776, in Major 
von Hanstein's company of this regiment. 



Von Knyphausen Regiment. 

Major Friedrich Ludwig von Dechow was the son of Hans C, 
von Dechow of Ratzeburg, Mecklenburg-StreUtz, in which place 
the Hessian soldier was born. He was a captain in the Prussian 
army under Frederick the Great. When the Hesse-Cassel regi- 
ment named after General von Knyphausen was sent to America, 
he became its major, and was for some months its commanding 
officer. He was wounded quite severely at Fort Washington, but 
soon recovered. He was an experienced officer, and in his com- 
mand enjoyed a reputation for great personal bravery. The 
wound which he received at the Trenton battle was in the left 
hip, and like Colonel Rail he died the next day. 

Captain Bernhard von Biesenrodt, 40 years of age, was born in 
Ober Kaufungen, and had been in the army since 1755. He was 
commander of a company named after himself. 

Captain Ludwig Wilhelm von Lowenstein, commander of the 
von Borck company, was born at Ronnenburg. He was 47 years 
of age, and had been twenty-seven years in the Hessian military 

Captain Barthold Helfrich von Schimmelpfennig, 37 years of 
age, was born in Hersfeld, and had been for twenty-four years in 
the von Knyphausen regiment. At this time he was staff captain 
in the von Biesenrodt company. 

Captain Jacob Baum was 44 years old, and twenty-six of those 
years had been spent in service. He was a staff captain in the 
body company. 

Lieutenant Christian Sobbe was born at Freystadt, was 2)Z 
years old, unmarried, and had been in this regiment for nineteen 

Lieutenant Carl Ludwig von Geyso was born at Marbach, and 
was nearly 20 years old. He was first in the regiment Prinz 
Carl, then in the battalion of the guard, and then in Major von 
Dechow's company of this regiment. He had entered the army 
in 1774. 

Lieutenant Nicholas Vaupell was born at Muden. He be- 
longed to the body company, but on the day of the battle was 
on duty with the von Dechow company. He was a married 

Lieutenant Werner von Ferry, 23 years of age, was born in 


Munster, and had served seven years in the body company of 
this regiment. 

Lieutenant Wilhelm Ludwig von Romrodt, 28 years of age, 
was born near Ziegenhain. He had served in the von Borck 
company for six years. 

Lieutenant Andreas Wiederhold was 24 years of age and a 
bright and active officer. He died at Cassel in 1803, then major 
and inspector of the arsenal. 

Ensign Heinrich Zimmermann, 21 years old,, was born at Cas- 
sel, and had joined the von Borck company in February, 1776. 

Ensign Wilhelm von Drach was born at Ellrichshausen. At 
the time of the battle he was 18 years old and was serving in the 
von Minnigerode company. 


Lieutenant Friedrich Fischer, 38 years old, was born in Nie- 
dernhausen and had been twenty years in service. 

Lieutenant Johannes Engelhardt was born in Cassel. He was 
23 years of age, and had been in the army but one year. 

No. 60. Lord Stirling to Governor Livingston. 

New Town, December 28th 1776 
My Dear Sir: 

I dare say you have heard of our little expedition to Trentown, 
on the night of the 25* ; the result was, that we made a most 
complete surprise on them, and have taken and killed at least 
one thousand two hundred of the best of Hessian troops, with 
their artillery and stores. The effect is amazing; the enemy 
have deserted Borden Town, Black Horse, Burlington, Mount 
Holly and are fled to South Amboy ; we are now in possession 
of all those places, and the spirit of that part of the country is 

I write this at the request of General Washington, with a lame 
hand, but I hope it will be well enough to give them another 
drubbing soon. I had the honour to make two regiments of 
them surrender prisoners of war and to treat them in such a style 
as will make the rest of them more willing to surrender than to 

i I 


God bless you ; be active and make the State of New Jersey 
what it ought to be. 

Most affectionately yours 


No. 61. Proclamation by the Pennsylvania Council of 


In Council ok Safety December 31 1776 
To the Public : 

There arrived yesterday in this City near one thousand Hes- 
sian prisoners taken by his Excellency Gen'l Washington in his 
late fortunate and successful Expedition to New Jersey. The 
General has recommended to this Council to provide suitable 
Quarters for them and it is his earnest wish that they may be 
well treated and have such principles instilled into them, whilst 
they remain prisoners, that when they return on being exchanged 
they may fully open the Eyes of their Countrymen in the service 
of the King of Great Britain who at present are not a little jealous 
of their English fellow soldiers. 

These miserable creatures now justly excite our Compassion. 
They have no Enmity with us. According to the arbitrary cus- 
toms of the tyrannical German Princes, they were dragg'd from 
their native Country, and sold to a foreign Monark, without 
either consulting their inclinations or informing them of the place 
they were destined for, or the Enemy they were to contend with. 
Their pay a mere pittance, they were necessitated and encouraged 
to plunder. It is therefore nothing strange that they have been 
guilty of great irregularities, tho' inferior to the brutal behaviour 
of the British Troops. But from the moment they are rescued 
from the authority of the British Officers, we ought no longer to 
regard them as our Enemies, at least whilst their Conduct will 
Justifie our favourable opinion. 'T is Britain alone that is our 
Enemy; all the rest of Europe is from the strongest motives 
interested in our favour. 'T is the Officers and Troops of Britain 
only that are heartily engaged in this unjust war against us from 
rancour, pride and ambition and notwithstanding the pains they 
have taken to prejudice the Germans against us, we hope they 
will find it impossible to prevail on them much longer to imbrue 
their hands in the blood of the Americans, many of whom are 
their Countrymen. The most favourable opportunity now offers 


to weaken the force of our Enemies by making their Auxiliaries 
our friends, and we earnestly entreat you to embrace it by sup- 
pressing any resentment that might naturally arise on recollecting 
their late hostility and treating the much injured and deceived 
Hessians now in our power in the most friendly manner, as a 
people we would wish to unite with ourselves in improving the 
fertile forrests of America, extending its manufacture & Com- 
merce and maintaining its Liberty and independency against all 
attacks of foreign & Arbitrary Power. 

No. 62. Count de Schaumburg to Baron Hohendorf.' 

Monsieur le Baron : 

On my return from Naples, I received at Rome your letter of 
the 27''> December of last year. I have learned with unspeak- 
able pleasure the courage our troops exhibited at Trenton, and 
you cannot imagine my joy on being told that of the 1950 Hes- 
sians engaged in the fight, but 345 escaped. There were just 
1605 men killed and I cannot sufficiently commend your prudence 
in sending an exact list of the dead to my minister in London. 
This precaution was the more necessary, as the report sent to 
the English ministry does not give but 1455 dead. This would 
make 483,450 florins instead of the 643,500 which I am intitled 
to demand under our convention. You will comprehend the 
prejudice which such an error would work in my finances, and I 
do not doubt you will take the necessary pains to prove that 
Lord North's list is false and yours correct. 

The court of London objects that there were a hundred 
wounded who ought not to be included in the list, nor paid for 
as dead ; but I trust you will not overlook my instructions to you 
on quittiiig Cassel and that you will not have tried by human 
succor to recall to life the unfortunates whose days could not be 
lengthened but by the loss of a leg or arm. That would be mak- 
ing them a pernicious present and I am sure they would rather 
die than live in a condition no longer fit for my service. I do 
not mean by this that you should assassinate them : we should 
be humane, my dear Baron, but you may insinuate to the sur- 
geons with entire propriety that a crippled man is a reproach to 

^ Dr. Benjamin Franklin is generally believed to have been the 
author of this satirical letter. Tyler's Literary History of the Ameri- 
can Revolution, vol. ii. p. 380. Bigelow's Life of Benjamin Franklin, 
vol. ii. p. 395. 


their profession and that there is no wiser course than to let 
every one of them die when he ceases to be fit to fight. 

I am about to send you some new recruits. Don't economize 
them. Glory is true wealth. There is nothing degrades a soldier 
like the love of money. He must care only for honour and repu- 
tation, but this reputation must be acquired in the midst of 
dangers. A battle gained without costing the conqueror any 
blood is an inglorious success, while the conquered cover them- 
selves with glory by perishing with their arms in their hands. 
Do you remember that of the 300 Lacedemonians who defended 
the defile at Thermopylae, not one returned ? How happy should 
I be could I say the same of my brave Hessians ! 

It is true that their King Leonidas perished with them ! but 
things have changed, and it is no longer the custom for Princes 
of the Empire to go and fight in America for a cause with which 
they have no concern. And besides, to whom should they pay 
the 30 guineas per man if I did not stay in Europe to receive 
them ? Then it is necessary also that I be ready to send recruits 
to replace the men you lose. For this purpose I must return to 
Hesse. It is true grown men are becoming scarce there but I 
will send the boys. Besides the scarcer the commodity the higher 
the price. I am assured that the women and little girls have 
begun to till our lands, and they get on not badly. You did right 
to send back to Europe that Doctor Crumerus who was so suc- 
cessful in curing dysentery. Don't bother with a man who is 
subject to looseness of the bowels. That disease makes bad 
soldiers. One coward will do more mischief in an engagement 
than ten brave men will do good. Better that they burst in their 
barracks than fly in a battle and tarnish the glory of our arms. 
Besides, you know that they pay me as killed for all who die 
from disease and I don't get a farthing for runaways. My trip to 
Italy, which has cost me enormously, makes it desirable that 
there should be a great mortality among them. You will therer 
fore promise promotion to all who expose themselves ; you will 
exhort them to seek glory in the midst of dangers ; you will 
say to Major Maundorf that I am not at all content with his 
saving the 345 men who escaped the massacre at Trenton. 
Through the whole campaign he has not had ten men killed in 
consequence of his orders. Finally, let it be your principal 
object to prolong the war and avoid a decisive engagement on 


either side, for I have made arrangements for a grand Italian 
opera and I do not wish to be obliged to give it up. Meantime 
I pray God, my dear Baron de Hohendorf, to have you in his 
holy and gracious keeping. 

No. 63. Colonel von Donop to General Knyphausen. 
Quarters at Allentown December 27th 1776. 

Perhaps your excellency has been already informed of the 
unpleasant affair which happened to the Rail brigade, but I think 
it my duty to report to you. On the 21^' instant I received word 
from Colonel Block at Black Horse, where his battalion was 
posted with the 42""^ Regiment, that a party of rebels had 
marched into Mount Holly, and that as yet he had been unable 
to ascertain its real strength, some reporting it two and some 
four thousand strong. I informed Colonel Rail immediately and 
advised him to be on his guard because while I believed the 
enemy would attack me, they might also make a demonstration 
against him. I arranged my plans so that I felt safe in case of a 
surprise and the next morning went myself to Black Horse. I 
found the enemy had all except a few patrols moved out no far- 
ther than the meeting house this side of Mount Holly. Immedi- 
ately on my return to Bordentown the alarm guns which I had 
ordered, were discharged at three o'clock in the afternoon by the 
two battalions at the Black Horse and by the battalion von Lin- 
singen lying between Black Horse and Bordentown. I informed 
Colonel Rail immediately and returned instantly to Black Horse. 
I found my men all under arms because as soon as I had left 
four or five hundred rebels had attacked the picket at Rancocas 
bridge, but effected nothing but the withdrawal of the twelve 
Scotish soldiers and their sergeant Captain von Eshwege who 
was quartered with his company in a house near came to their 
assistance and a picket of grenadiers that was stationed just 
beyond him and the rebels did not move a step further. 

In order to rid myself of these unpleasant guests I went next 
morning with the 42"*^ Regiment, the two battalions Block and 
von Linsengen directly to Mount Holly. I met a few hundred 
men at the meeting house but after firing a few shots they ran 
away and the whole party took the road to Moorestown. They 
were about a thousand men strong and under the command of 


Colonel Griffin. It was the fault of one of my patrols that I did 
not get on them as I wished, for the patrol went against my direc- 
tion too far in advance. I had no wounded or dead men, but 
the rebels had three caused by my artillery fire although but a 
few shots were fired. At the attack on Rancocas bridge Captain 
von Eshwege's company had two and the guard of Scotsmen 
two slightly wounded men. The battalion von Linsengen then 
marched back again to their former quarters, Mansfield Square, 
in order to be near Bordentown, and the other two battalions 
remained at Mount Holly to gather food and forage for the stores 
at Bordentown. There was nothing in Colonel Rail's reports, 
and more especially in the communications from General Grant 
to fear at Trenton. The following morning I regret to say proved 
the contrary. Lieutenant Colonel von Minnigerode reported to 
me that he had heard by a messenger that the rebels had sur- 
prised the Rail brigade this morning at Trenton between eight 
and nine o'clock and that they were ten to twelve thousand 
strong. Soon after this Lieutenant Colonel von Minnigerode 
sent an officer to me saying the report of the surprise at Trenton 
had been confirmed by many who had escaped from there. I 
went immediately back to Black Horse, reinforced the command 
at the Crosswicks bridge so as to keep open the way to Prince- 
ton. According to all the reports of the men who escaped from 
Trenton and the statements of patrols I had sent in that direction, 
the whole Rail brigade has been lost and many thousand rebels 
are in their quarters. I did not think it advisable for me to 
remain any longer in so dangerous a situation, surrounded on all 
sides by the enemy and cut off from all communication with 
Princeton. I was also assured that a large part of the rebels had 
turned to Princeton and I had not the slightest word from Gen- 
eral Leslie. My ammunition had run low, only about nine car- 
tridges to a cannon and very little indeed for the fire-locks. 
Even if I had thought proper to face all attacks from the enemy 
in my dangerous position, to remain in Bordentown and wait for 
a doubtful success I would not dare to do it on account of the 
shortage of ammunition. Therefore after due consideration I 
withdrew to Allentown which is twelve English miles from Prince- 
ton and informed General Leslie of this fact. This place is so 
situated that I can push through from here or in one day if neces- 
sary resume my former position. I have brought all my baggage 


along, but I am sorry I am compelled to leave about twenty sick 
and wounded at Bordentown, with a stock of provisions and 
forage. Some of the men were not able to be carried and the 
wagons were too scarce to carry the rations, which will therefore 
I fear fall into the hands of the rebels. I have organized all the 
escaped men from the Rail brigade and made up a force of two 
hundred and ninety-two men, including the command at the 
drawbridge of one Captain, three officers and one hundred men. 
Lieutenant von Grothausen with fifty yagers who had his com- 
mand at Trenton, with a detachment of light infantry and dra- 
goons, except one yager who was killed and one sick soldier, 
escaped from the fight. Colonel Rail it is said is mortally 
wounded and so is Major von Dechow. Lieutenant Colonel 
Bretthauer and many of the officers have been wounded, some of 
them killed. I could not find anything more definite than this. 
All the cannon and flags of the brigade are lost and the prisoners 
taken amount to seven hundred men. 

I am Your Excellency's ser't &c Donop. 

Whether this affair was an accident or whether a mistake had 
been made could not be determined from the stories told by 
the fugitives. All agree, however, that if Colonel Rail with his 
brigade had retreated over the bridge and then destroyed it he 
could have saved his command instead of fighting for an hour 
against such heavy odds. Nevertheless it certainly proves his 
splendid courage and that of his regiments, and this at least is 
greatly to their honour. Even the two regiments, the von Loss- 
berg and his own, could have been saved. The death of Colonel 
Rail has therefore avoided a painful investigation, for he would 
have had to answer for this grave responsibilit)'. 

No. 64. General Grant to Colonel von Donop. 

Brunswick 27th Dec 1776 

Colonel Rail's Defeat is a most unfortunate business. I did 

not think that all the Rebels in America would have taken that 

Brigade Prisoners — one must not judge rashly of People who 

have been unfortunate but if you had been there and had found 

yourself overpowered by numbers, if I am not mistaken, you 

would have contrived to retreat across the bridge to Bordenton — 


the Light Dragoons, Light Infantry and it appears from your let- 
ter to General Leslie that 200 Hessians did so. After all that 
has happened if I was with you, your Grenadiers and Yagers I 
should not be afraid of an attack from Washington's Army, which 
is almost naked and does not exceed 8000 men including Lee's, 
Gates's and Arnold's Corps. I have sent an express to General 
Howe and till I receive his commands about the future Arrange- 
ment of our cantonments, I must beg of you to remain at Allen- 
town, or if that should not be practicable, for I don't know the 
place, you must crowd into Princetown, Maidenhead, Cranbury 
and Kingston. 

I have the honour to be. Sir, Your most obed't h'lle servant 

James Grant. 

No. 65. General von Heister to the Prince of Hesse. 

To His Highness the Prince of Hesse 
Merciful Father of the Country ! 

Your Highness has I trust seen my letter of the 2^^ of Decem- 
ber. The fate of war which I had such good reason to praise in 
my last letter and which I humbly hope pleased your Highness 
has given us a sad example of its inconstancy — which is hard 
indeed for every true Hessian. The pain the first report gave me 
it is unnecessary to describe and I feel it anew when I am com- 
pelled to repeat it to you who must feel the loss of even a single 
subject. The three regiments of von Lossberg, von Knyphausen 
and Rail which were quartered at Trenton in New Jersey were on 
the 26* of December surprised and attacked by a superior force 
of the rebels an account of which you may read in the enclosed 
journal written up to the 27'h of December. After a defense of 
nearly an hour and a half the entire body of officers and a large 
part of the men had been killed or wounded, the rest were sur- 
rounded and made prisoners. The fifteen flags and the six can- 
non were also lost. A small balance of 292 men as near as I can 
ascertain saved themselves and joined Colonel von Donop's 
force. They will be according to my request sent to General 
Howe's quarters and I therefore expect them daily. After they 
have rested and recruited themselves, if in fit condition, I will 
form them into a separate battalion which can be assigned to 
" Colonel von Donop's command and a Staff officer can be placed 
in charge of them. On the 3'^ inst. I sent Quarter Master Muller 


of the von Knyphausen regiment with twelve men of the brigade 
with permission of the General in Chief to Philadelphia to assist 
the prisoners there with money and underclothing until their re- 
lease for which I am working very hard. If Colonel Rail has 
made a mistake and caused this mishap nothing positive can be 
said until the imprisoned officers can be examined. According 
to the story of the men who escaped through his hot-headedness 
he was not willing to retreat and sacrificed his men because rather 
than use the bridge behind him which he could have held pos- 
session of with advantage. His death does away with many 
investigations and many complications. I have always judged 
him stronger in the attack than in the defense. The former he 
gallantly displayed at Fort Knyphausen. Just now I receive the 
report that an English brigade has shared the same fate as the 
Rail brigade, but I am not able to say how true this is. The 
English regiments have no flags and cannon with them and so 
they are saved the misfortune of losing them. The farther events 
your Highness will see in the Continental journales. I lay these 
facts before you and I am yours humbly. 

VON Heister. 
New York 5th of January 1777. 

No. 66. Earl of Suffolk to General von Heister. 

St James 3rd March 1777. 

The Baron de Kuzleben has sent me the letter which you hon- 
ored me with of date January 28*, but that of December 2^^^ 
never reached me. It was with great sorrow that we heard of 
the disaster which happened to the Hessian brigade, by which 
this most brilliant campaign was closed by the loss of so many 
brave men. In deploring the death of Colonel Rail we are not 
able at the same time to avoid the fact that his great rashness 
interfered with him as the commander of a post where he should 
have tried to preserve the lives of his men. We will always con- 
tinue to hope that the occasion will present itself that the troops 
of his Serene Highness may be able to give essential proof of 
their valour in the service of His Majesty, and that you will have 
to send us great accounts of their brave conduct. 

I have the honour to be With great esteem, Sir, 
Your very humble & very obt servant 



No. 67. Prince of Hesse to Lieutenant-General von 

Cassel, i6th of June 1777. 

I expected to receive the particulars of the fatal affair at Tren- 
ton on the return of Quarter Master Mueller from Lieutenant 
General von Heister. This has not been done and I therefore 
expect and demand of the Lieutenant General all the information 
necessary to give light on this unlucky business, and enable me 
to judge of the proper sentence. The general description has 
not yet been received and all the minor points are still wanting. 
Quarter Master Mueller's diary does not mention a word of it. 
My sensitive feelings are not quieted and the painful shock not 
lessened by keeping from me the details of this affair. I there- 
fore repeat the demand on the Lieutenant General for a thorough 
investigation of the whole matter. Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer 
particularly and the commanding officers of the other two regi- 
ments must on their return from imprisonment be subject to the 
severest investigation. The former must especially be questioned 
why he did not take command immediately after Colonel Rail 
was wounded and why he did not try to remedy the disaster 
when he knew that Colonel Rail was disabled from further 
command ? 


Court Geismar, August 3, 1777 

As soon as the three captured regiments are exchanged, the 
Lieutenant General is requested, as he has been already ordered 
to establish a court martial in which a Major General shall pre- 
side and all these questions must be answered : 

1. — At what time in the day were the regiments attacked and 
captured ? 

2. — How strong was the force of the enemy ? 

3. — What plans had Colonel Rail made in case his regiments 
were attacked ? 

4. — Were the quarters of the regiments separated or near to- 
gether ? What precautions were taken and were there any patrols, 
sent out to obtain information as to the near approach of the 
enemy ? 

5. — How did the regiments defend themselves and how long 


did this defense continue ? How heavy was the loss of wounded 
and dead on our side and how great on the side of the enemy ? 

6. — Why did not Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer take command 
after Colonel Rail had been disabled, as it was his duty as senior 
officer, and why did he not retreat over the little bridge across 
the stream in their rear, after finding the enemy so strong? 

7. — From whom did Colonel Rail receive his orders ? Did he 
not receive proper instructions ? Did Colonel Rail visit his posts 
often ? Did Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer give no orders when 
Colonel Rail found himself unable to save his men ? 

8. — Why did not Colonel von Donop march to their assistance 
and was there no communication existing between Bordentown 
and Trenton ? 

The greatest responsibility after the death of Colonel Rail rests 
on Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer and after him on the two officers 
who commanded the von Knyphausen and the von Woellworth ^ 
regiments and these officers are to be held to account for their 

No. 68. Friedrich L. L Hessen to General Knyphausen. 

My dear Lieutenant General von Knyphausen : 

In regard to the report of that fatal affair at Trenton I would 
inform you that the importance of the matter has not permitted 
an earlier conclusion. It has been found that many facts need 
verification, that the behaviour of every one implicated should be 
clearly understood so that the conduct of each one should be 
judged properly and beyond question. I would respectfully ask 
the Lieutenant General to convene a just and impartial court 
according to the rules, that this unpleasant afiair may end and 
every officer implicated, irrespective of previous statements and 
testimony, be resworn in so important a matter. A Major Gen- 
eral should preside and there must be three officers ordered on 
the court of each rank. You may order such courts-martial to 
carefully investigate all the circumstances of this affair and after 
due consideration pass judgment thereon. If any are found 
guilty according to law you should pass sentence on each one 
according as your conscience may dictate and send the verdict 
to me. 

In the investigation it is shown ; 

1 Formerly the Rail regiment. 


1. — That the danger to which the regiments in Trenton were 
daily exposed should have made it apparent to Colonel Rail that 
he ought to have designated an alarm place for the brigade, that 
he should have made the necessary arrangements for defence, 
that he should have erected fortifications and breast-works and 
should have sent out frequent patrols to those places where the 
enemy was supposed to be, especially at Pennington, to Howell's 
and to Johnson's ferries. As the whole force of the enemy 
crossed over the Delaware river on the 25* of December 1776 
,and this crossing took sixteen hours it is apparent that the send- 
ing out of patrols had been neglected. If it had been done the 
regiments would have had timely warning and could have made 
preparations for resistance. 

2. — An investigation is yet to be made by the court-martial 
as to what orders Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer gave after Colonel 
Rail had been wounded in the attack on the town which he made 
with the von Lossberg and his own regiment and after Major 
von Hanstein had informed Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer of the 
wounding of Colonel Rail and he according to his own statement 
had assumed charge of the command. 

3. — As Major von Hanstein states that after the fruitless 
attack upon the town and during the retreat to the woods he. 
Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer and Major Matthaus had all agreed 
to break through the line of the enemy, a thorough investigation 
must be made why this resolution was not carried out. The pro- 
tocol of former investigations should be presented to this court- 
martial for its action. 

4. — Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer is to be questioned as to why 
in the retreat not the least effort was made to break through and 
join the English troops at Princeton, when the troops had not 
even fired and by his own testimony an officer of the enemy 
was called out and made by him to understand that they were 
forced to surrender. Captain Steding said in his testimony that 
Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer and Major von Hanstein joined an 
officer of the enemy who rode up to them at the time of the re- 
treat and on their return both of the regiments surrendered. We 
may conclude from this as well as from Lieutenant Colonel Schef- 
fer's testimony that no fire was opened upon the enemy in front 
of them. Although the enemy was much stronger numerically, 
they were in no way equal to the brigade of Colonel Rail and it 


cannot be denied that their troops were much scattered and 
stronger on the flanks than on the front of Trenton. Therefore 
if the regiments intended to break through and were in order for 
so doing it ought not to have been a very hard task for these regi- 
ments unitedly at some one point to have effected an escape. 
The militia was a mixed force, much dissatisfied from previous 
misfortunes and losses and they would not have stood at one 
certain point against an attack with the bayonet. By this honor- 
able way a disgraceful surrender and capture might have been 
avoided. If this however had been found to be impossible then 
the regiments should have tried to withdraw toward the creek and 
made an effort to cross it. The testimony of Captain von Lowen- 
stein shows plainly in the trial that two hundred steps to the right 
of the position of the von Knyphausen regiment, and so accord- 
ing to this statement behind the von Lossberg and the Rail regi- 
ments also, the water was only knee deep. 

5. — The regiment von Knyphausen remained too long at the 
quarters of Major von Dechow waiting for orders, as it stood 
there when the attack and the firing had begun at the upper part 
of the town. Because Colonel Rail had made no arrangements 
against a surprise the regiment could do nothing but guard the 
bridge over the creek at Trenton or aid the other two regiments 
already in conflict with the enemy. The signal to march should 
have been the cannon shots of the enemy. 

6. — An investigation should be made earnestly and with dili- 
gence as to the cause which made the von Knyphausen regiment 
withdraw when in the apple orchard back of Trenton, when the 
Rail and the von Lossberg regiments were about to make the 
attack on the town and why did they turn to the left and separate 
themselves instead of assisting those regiments. 

7. — Who gave the orders for this separation? Was the oc- 
cupation of the bridge the motive for this movement ? If so why 
did they not attack the enemy there with the bayonet ? Was no 
attempt made to do this ? 

8. — How can Captain von Biesenrodt answer these questions ? 
Why did his regiment not attack the enemy at the bridge ? Why 
did his regiment march up and down the creek in an uncertain 
way and thereby separate itself from the other regiments then in 
action ? Why did he intentionally put the regiment in low 
ground when an elevation was before him and why did he remain 


there ? Why did he send Lieutenant Wiederhold according to 
his own statement to an officer in advance of the enemy and soon 
after that walked up himself to General Lord Stirling an Ameri- 
can General and there capitulate, and then returning to the regi- 
ment surrendered them without hesitation. This regiment that 
would have accepted every chance, for it had lately at the capture 
of Fort Knyphausen fought so bravely and acted so well, was 
surrendered without having made an attack and scarcely without 
having fired a shot ? When his duty urged him to risk an escape 
by crossing the creek with the rest of his men where a part of his 
men had already crossed and where apparently there was no dan- 
ger of drowning, instead of doing this he surrendered in a shame- 
ful way. Besides these questions Captain von Biesenrodt should 
be also asked why he had not marched to the place already 
designated by Captain von Lowenstein where the water was 

9. — It also seems that the Artillery officer Lieutenant Engel- 
hardt is guilty of a criminal act in leaving his cannon in such 
haste instead of remaining with his command. Even if he did 
lose a few artillerists and a few horses he certainly hurried over 
the bridge before the fate of his command had been decided. 
He should be more carefully questioned on this subject than has 
heretofore been done. 

As soon as all these points have been examined into as we 
have already stated the Lieutenant General having reconvened 
the Court-Martial, all those who are found guilty by the Court 
should be arrested and confined until my action in the matter 
shall be received in America. The kind of punishment will be 
indicated in the summing up of this unpleasant affair. Because 
of some facts worthy of consideration in the case of those officers 
now serving with the von Trumbach regiment in Georgia and who 
may be found guilty, their arrest will be deferred until my action 
in the matter is made known. 

Yours affectionately 

Friedrich L. I. Hessen. 
Weissenstein 23rd of April 1779 


No. 69. Return Casualties Rall's Brigade. 

New York, 13th of December 1781. 
On account of the various returns from different sources, and 
especially from the statements of the officers, it is very uncertain 
what the loss, in dead and wounded, was of each regiment at the 
affair at Trenton and the strength of each regiment when cap- 
tured. It has therefore become necessary in order to make a 
correct judgment in the case to have extracts from the Commis- 
sary's office upon his word of honor of the dead, wounded and 
captured at the surprise at Trenton. This is to be taken from 
the total lists received of the losses of the Rail brigade at Tren- 
ton in 1776. And with this information every effort possible has 
been made to get correct accounts of the losses on the side of the 
enemy, both from the papers here or the rebel papers there, that 
it might be ascertained what was the strength of the enemy at 
the surprise. But it was all in vain, no papers could be found to 
give the facts accurately. Your obt. servt 


sent under word of honour to the War Commissioner Lorentz, 
now deceased, examined by him and found correct, of the dead, 
wounded and prisoners taken at the surprise at Trenton on the 
26* day of December 1776 of the regiments Alt von Lossberg, 
von Knyphausen and Rail. 


Dead and Missing. 



1 « 

!,. i. 

'" '.J 

= S 
























Von Lossberg . 








Von Knyp- 














Total . . 









The above extract of the return I have examined and find it 
correct. I therefore according to my duty sign it with my own 


New York 13th of December 1781 

No. 70. Proceedings of Hessian Court-Martial. 
To THE Honorable Court Martial. — 

It is known to the honorable Court Martial that I have been 
for some time forced by sickness to remain in my quarters. The 
trouble which I have in my legs makes it impossible for me to 
wear shoes and I cannot therefore go out. In fact I am too weak 
to engage in any reading of the extensive testimony or to be pre- 
sent at the reading. 

I hope that the truthful explanation will excuse me and I pray 
that the Honourable Court Martial will send my testimony to 
my quarters to be read to me. I have nothing to add in refer- 
ence to the surprise at Trenton and I leave it to the action of the 
Court Martial. 

Very respectfully your obedient servant 

New York 4th of January 1782. 

New York, 4th of January 17S2 
An excuse was received today from Lieutenant Colonel Schef- 
fer that he could not be present at the meeting of the Court 
Martial because of sickness and he humbly asked to have a 
Committee sent to his quarters to read to him the statements 
which had been made. 

The Court Martial was also directed by His Excellency the 
Lieutenant General Knyphausen to order to be present at their 
meeting all officers who had been in the command of the three 
regiments at Trenton. Also to request Lieutenant Hendorff who 
has since then been discharged to be present but to leave it en- 
tirely to his honour whether he will respond to the call or not. 

J. J. Lotheisen. 

New York, 5th of January 1782 
The following Committee was sent to Lieutenant Colonel 
Scheffer of the von Lossberg regiment and to Captain Schimmel- 
pfennig of the von Knyphausen regiment because of their inabil- 


ity to be present at the meeting of the Court Martial, viz : Colo- 
nel von Kochenhausen, Lieutenant Colonel Eitel and Major 
Hessenmuller to Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer, and Major Pfaff, 
Captain Wachs and myself as Auditor to Captain Schimmel- 
pfennig. The minutes and the testimony was read to both of the 
sick officers and they declared they had no changes to make, that 
they left the facts just as they were stated and that they had no 
objection to any member of the Court Martial 

F. VON Kochenhausen H. H. Eitel 

VON Hessenmuller Friedrich Pfaff 

F. Wachs. J. J. Lotheisen. 

The members of the Court were : 

Major General Heinrich Jul. von Kospoth, formerly Colonel of 
the von Wutgenau regiment, President of the court ; Colonel 
Rudolph von Bunau of the garrison regiment von Bunau ; Colo- 
nel Friedrich von Kochenhausen of the regiment Hereditary 
Prince ; Lieutenant Colonel Otto Christian Wilhelm von Linsin- 
gen of the grenadier battalion von Linsingen ; Lieutenant Colo- 
nel Carl von Kietzell of the regiment von Wissenbach ; Lieuten- 
ant Colonel Georg Emanuel von Lengercke, of the grenadier 
battalion von Lengercke, and afterward of the regiment Prinz 
Carl ; Lieutenant Colonel Hans Heinrich Eitel of the Hessian 
Artillery ; Major Friedrich Pfaff of the regiment Hereditary 
Prince ; Major Friedrich von Eschwege of the grenadier bat- 
talion von Lengercke ; Major Heinrich Christian von Hessen- 
muller of the grenadier battalion Graff; Captain Heinrich Fried- 
rich Wachs of the regiment Hereditary Prince ; Captain Georg 
Hohenstein of the grenadier battalion Graff ; Captain Ludwig 
Eberhard Murarius of the regiment Landgrave ; Lieutenant Carl 
von Rabenau of the grenadier battalion Lowenstein ; Lieutenant 
Reinhard Yunck formerly of the garrison regiment von Seitz now 
of the grenadier battalion Graff ; Lieutenant Max Ludwig von 
Helmold of the grenadier battalion von Linsingen and afterward 
the regiment du Corps ; Ensign Heinrich Georg de Nolde of the 
regiment Landgrave ; Ensign August von Pappenheim of the 
regiment Landgrave ; Ensign Friedrich Wilhelm Kuester of 
the garrison regiment von Bunau. 

Johann Jacob Lotheisen was Auditor. 


An extract from the minutes of the Court shows who were 
ordered before it to give their testimony or to confirm that 
already given. 

New York, 5th of January 1782 
Court Martial. 
Major General von Kospoth, presiding. 

The following officers of the regiments von Lossberg, von 
Knyphausen and Rail heard the reading of the minutes and the 
testimony and offered no objections : — 

1. — Lieutenant Zoll 

— Lieutenant von Hobe (formerly Ensign) 

— Lieutenant Hille — all of the regiment von Lossberg. 

— Captain von Biesenrodt 

— Captain Baum 

— Captain Wiederhold (formerly Lieutenant) 

— Captain Vaupell (formerly Lieutenant) 

— Lieutenant Sobbe 

— Lieutenant von Drach (formerly Ensign) 

— Lieutenant von Romrodt 

— Lieutenant Zimmermann (formerly Ensign) — all of the 
regiment von Knyphausen. 

2. — Major Boking (formerly Captain) 

13. — Captain Salzmann (formerly Lieutenant) — all of the regi- 

ment Rail 

14. — Corporal Frank Georg Bauer of the Yagers 

No. 71. Finding of Hessian Court- Martial. 

The President and the members of the Court were then 
sworn : — 

They gave their decision according to their respective rank 
after they had been cautioned to keep the same secret : — 

The Ensigns. They agree that the disaster at Trenton was 
due to the neglect of Colonel Rail in not making the necessary 
preparations in case of retreat. Also that he was to blame for 
attacking the town instead of retreating, thereby causing the con- 
fusion in the Rail and von Lossberg regiments. They think that 
Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer in the situation in which he was 
when he took command of the regiments, against a superior force, 
would have found it impossible to have effected a retreat ; that 





he and all his officers did all in their power to encourage their 
men and preserve order and that the testimony shows no censure 
should be placed on them. In the matter of the pickets there 
could be nothing said against them as they were too weak in 
number to resist so strong an enemy and they were not guilty 
of making a premature retreat. Lieutenant Fischer according 
to the testimony remained with the von Lossberg regiment and 
Lieutenant Engelhardt could not save the cannon of the Rail 
regiment; therefore the Ensigns judge that no blame can be 
attached to the Artillery detachment of the brigade. The min- 
utes show in the case of the von Knyphausen regiment that the 
command marched into the low ground on a positive order ; 
therefore the regiment could not be held responsible for it. They 
also think that it was impossible for Captain von Biesenrodt, 
who took command when the von Knyphausen regiment already 
stood in the low ground, to force the bridge with his small regi- 
ment, and there was no way for him to make them cross the 
creek, and that he had taken the necessary steps in this matter, 
first to have the creek sounded, second to place an officer and 
forty men to protect the ford, and third to assume charge himself 
of the rear guard. Captain von Loewenstein had rtot then shown 
him where the water was only knee-deep and therefore no lack of 
resolution or want of bravery can be charged to him. That he 
finally surrendered himself and his men he could not be censured 
for, because first the other regiments were already captured, sec- 
ond the situation of the von Knyphausen regiment was already 
known to the enemy from Major von Dechow's movements, and 
third the enemy put its whole force now against the regiment 
von Knyphausen, and this regiment could not successfully resist 
after having the cannon stuck in the swamp and only numbering 
then but 276 men. We also find that Captain Schimmelpfennig, 
Lieutenant now Captain Baum, Lieutenant now Captain Vaupell 
and Lieutenant von Geyso did not go through the creek until the 
whole regiment had orders from Captain von Biesenrodt, and took 
the men across according to the statement already made. So the 
Ensigns believe Captain von Biesenrodt as well as the officers, 
the non-commissioned officers and the privates of the von Knyp- 
hausen regiment are free from blame and ought to be acquitted. 

H. G. D. NoLDE 
A. VON Pappenheim 



The Lieutenants. The Lieutenants agree in tlie decision of the 
Ensigns in every particular, and for the same reasons tliey recom- 
mend that the three regiments von Lossberg, von Knyphausen 
and Rail be acquitted. 

C. VON Rabenau 


M. L. VON Helmold. 

The Captains. The Captains believe, according to the facts 
set forth, that no faint-heartedness, premature retreat or any act 
of insubordination can be charged against the three regiments 
von Lossberg, von Knyphausen and Rail at the surprise at Tren- 
ton. The commanding officers as well as the other officers, the 
several commands, the pickets, as well as Sergeant Mueller who 
had command at the bridge, and the detachment of artillery, all 
did their duty and ought to be acquitted. All the men who were 
in service at the surprise at Trenton we include in this opinion 
and we desire it published in the newspapers here as well as at 
Cassel. That his Serene Highness of Hesse may grant the regi- 
ments above named new flags we desire to state these facts in 
addition to what has already been said : 

1. — That Captain von Lowenstein, if he were yet alive, would 
have the greatest necessity for explaining why he apparently 
deceived Captain von Biesenrodt in that he did not show him 
the place where the creek could be crossed after Major von 
Dechow was wounded. 

2. — It would appear that Captain Schimmelpfennig, Lieu- 
tenant Baum, Lieutenant Vaupell and Lieutenant von Geyso after 
crossing the creek should have halted on the bank and collected 
their men. But owing to the general confusion and especially 
the fact that von Geyso was wounded, they ought to be excused. 

3. — It was perfectly right that Captain von Biesenrodt should 
form^the rear guard and that he should take command of it and 
offer to be the last man to cross. 

4. — After Captain von Biesenrodt had given the order to cross 
the creek it was his duty to give special orders to his subaltern 
officers that they should cross and to see that the orders were 
carried out in the proper manner. 

5. — It is known to us, especially to Captain Wachs and Cap- 
tain Hohenstein by personal knowledge that Captain von Biesen- 
rodt is a brave man. He has proven this so often in the face of 


the enemy, and according to the opinion of others he did his duty 
at the surprise at Trenton, so that we are convinced that he had 
not then lost his usual courage. 

H. Wachs 


The Majors. The examination shows nothing more to us than 
that Colonel Rail neglected to take the necessary precautions 
which it was his duty to do for the regiments he commanded and 
he left his officers without any orders in case of attack. Colonel 
Rail died without an examination which would probably have 
cleared up many things. We are therefore of the opinion that 
neither faint-heartedness, premature flight or insubordination is 
to be charged against the men at the surprise at Trenton and that 
their commander Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer, Major Matthaus 
and the other officers of the regiments von Lossberg and Rail, 
also the pickets and guards as well as Sergeant Mueller who had 
the watch at the bridge, and the detachment of artillery have all 
done their duty and we recommend them for acquittal. We think 
that all the officers still living, who served at the surprise at Tren- 
ton, should be fully exonerated from blame a'nd that this. should 
be published in the newspapers here and at Cassel. As far as 
the regiment von Knyphausen is concerned we believe that they 
obeyed strictly the orders of their commanding officer Major von 
Dechow and after he retired wounded and Captain von Biesen- 
rodt had taken command of the regiment they had already been 
placed in a bad position in low ground near the enemy. In 
this condition Captain von Biesenrodt did all that could be done 
under the circumstances. He gave orders for the regiment to 
retire through the creek, ordered the rear guard of forty men and 
took charge of it himself. The enemy pressed so violently and 
closed up on the regiment that no blame can be put on Captain 
von Biesenrodt and the rest of the officers of the von Knyphausen 
regiment. In order not to sacrifice the men uselessly they were 
compelled to surrender. It is to be hoped that His Highness 
the Count of Hesse will grant new flags to these three regiments, 
keep them in service and retain his good will toward them. 

Friedrich Pfaff 
Friedrich von Eschwege 
H. Hessenmuller. 


The Lieutenant Colonels. We observe from the testimony that 
the surprise at Trenton was carried out with great force and 
determination by the enemy. This fact must be taken into con- 
sideration in rendering a decision. According to our opinion all 
the pickets and guards did their duty and did not leave their 
posts without proper defence and they then only retreated under 
continual fire, some of them to their regiments and some to Bor- 
dentown in order not to be captured. The Yager company can- 
not be blamed because they had no bayonets and they all fol- 
lowed their commander Lieutenant von Grothausen now deceased, 
but how much he was blameworthy cannot now be decided be- 
cause he cannot be examined, for he died of his wounds. The 
detachment of artillery did their duty and defended themselves 
as long as it was possible to do it. Artillery Lieutenant Engel- 
hardt did wrong by not joining the von Lossberg and Rail regi- 
ments after he had lost his cannon, but as it is known to us that 
he has both before and since the surprise of Trenton conducted 
himself very bravely, and being a young officer and having testi- 
fied on a former examination at Charleston that he was already 
cut off, he should be acquitted. After a due consideration of all 
the different perplexing situations in which Lieutenant Colonel 
Scheffer was placed after the wounding of Colonel Rail, we can 
neither find a want of courage or irresolution on his part, but 
rather great bravery because : — 

I'. — He formed his regiment in a large open ground under the 
direct fire of the enemy. 

2. — While marching to attack the enemy, he obeyed according 
to his rank the order of Colonel Rail and began an attack on 
the enemy then in his rear in the town, and after the regiments 
had been beaten and Colonel Rail had been wounded he took 

3. — After agreeing with Majors von Hanstein and Matthaus 
to break through the woods he did march against the enemy a 
certain distance but he was compelled to stop, because his regi- 
ments were not in order after leaving the town and because he 
found himself surrounded on all sides by the enemy. The regi- 
ments which can form in a great surprise and under fire of the 
enemy like the von Lossberg and Rail regiments and by an order' 
of their commander attack the foe and defend themselves a con- 
siderable time, which the loss of the von Lossberg sufficiently 


shows, cannot be judged otherwise than that the officers, non- 
commissioned officers and privates fully did their duty. Captain 
von Biesenrodt showed no lack of determination or courage in 
the situation when he took command of the von Knyphausen 

1. — He received the command of the regiment when it was 
posted in a bad position, a low swamp, and their cannon were 
already stuck in the marsh. 

2. — It was utterly impossible for a weak regiment, in much 
confusion and without cannon, to break through the enemy which 
had already placed a guard on all the high positions on the shore 
and at the bridge, and the bridge could not be forced. 

3. — He had fully considered the crossing of the creek as the 
only way to save the regiment and had its depth sounded before 
giving orders to cross the same. 

4. — The crossing took considerable time on account of the 
steep shore on the other side, and it was a good move to order 
Lieutenant von Ferry with forty men to watch the enemy posted 
opposite on the heights. 

S- — We think that as a brave officer he did not want to be the 
first to go through the water but was determined to go with the 
rear guard and is not censurable but rather praiseworthy for this 
act, although Captain Schimmelpfennig found fault with this 

6. — The capitulation was not wrong because the crossing of 
the creek was impossible with the cannon and the howitzers of 
the enemy posted on the heights. 

7- — It is to be supposed that Captain von Biesenrodt's plan 
would have worked well were it not that Major -s^on Dechow had 
gone toward the enemy previous to this and revealed the situa- 
tion of the regiment by having a white pocket handkerchief tied 
to a staff. This fact worked greatly, toward the discouragement 
of the men. 

We are therefore in favour of acquitting the three regiments 
von Lossberg, von Knyphausen and Rail, now Angelelli, and the 
detachment of Artillery, all the guards and the pickets. The 
names of the surviving officers should be mentioned and the sen- 
tence when confirmed by His Highness should justify the con- 
duct of these men and it should be published in the newspapers 
here and at Cassel. 


We humbly leave all this to the mercy of his Serene Highness, 
that he may acquit the three regiments and grant them new flags. 


G. E. VON Lengerke 

H. H. ElTEL. 

The Colonels. It seems to us according to the testimony read 
to us that much is due to the bad conduct of Colonel Rail the 
commander at Trenton at the time of the surprise. 

I. — That he had not used prudence enough to put up some 
fortifications which had been suggested by Colonel von Donop 
and the plans prepared by Captain Pauli. 

2. — Engineer Captain Martin was sent to Colonel Rail shortly 
before the surprise by Colonel von Donop to see Colonel Rail 
about the construction of a redoubt and he had disdainfully re- 
jected the idea with the expression that the rebels were a miserable 
band and fortifications against such a party were unnecessary. 

3. — Colonel Rail entirely omitted to designate alarm places 
for the brigade. 

4. — When Major von Dechow made the proposition the day 
before the attack to send away the baggage as it was only an 
incumbrance in case of an attack Colonel Rail replied ridiculing 
and belittling the suggestion. Colonel Rail having been mor- 
tally wounded and died of the wounds received at the attack on 
Trenton he cannot be held to answer these charges, and a deci- 
sion cannot be justly rendered against him. But no blame for 
want of courage, or because of an unnecessary retreat can be 
placed on the von Lossberg, von Knyphausen and Rail regiments 
at the affair at Trenton. 

The uncertainty as to why the regiment von Knyphausen 
remained so long at the place of rendezvous cannot be cleared 
up because of the death of Major von Dechow, but it is probable 
that he, as no alarm place had been designated by Colonel Rail, 
waited there for orders where to march his regiment. Captain 
von Biesenrodt cannot be blamed for finding the regiment in a 
bad position and in disorder for it is well understood how diffi- 
cult it is to bring out order where once there has been confusion. 
The testimony shows further that Captain von Biesenrodt had 
ordered the crossing of the creek with all the care available but 
the strong opposing forces and the superiority of artillery made 


the crossing impossible. The detached commands and the pick- 
ets, the guards at the bridge under Sergeant Mueller, and the 
detachment of artillery did their whole duty and should be 
acquitted. We also think that every surviving officer of the Rail 
brigade in the affair at Trenton should be acquitted and their 
names together with this verdict should be published in public 
orders and in the newspapers of the country. In reference to 
the lost flags of those three regiments we would humbly ask and 
pray that new flags be granted them. 




The President and the Auditor. We agree with the opinion of 
the Lieutenant Colonels for the reasons given and we would also 
state that no blame should be attached to Captain Schimmelpfen- 
nig and the Lieutenants Baum, Vaupell and von Geyso because 
they crossed the creek before they were ordered by Captain von 
Biesenrodt who also ordered the whole von Knyphausen regi- 
ment to cross. Captain Schiramelpfennig states in his testi- 
mony that he reassembled about fifty men and retreated with 
them to Princeton. As the regiments have all been acquitted 
but are serving without flags according to the Articles of War 
this matter must be referred to and we would humbly submit to 
his Serene Highness to mercifully grant new flags to the Alt von 
Lossljerg, the von Knyphausen and the Rail, now the d'Ange- 
lelli, regiments. 


Verdict. On the surprise at Trenton of the regiments von 
Lossberg, von Knyphausen and Rail, now d'Angelelli, and their 

The Court Martial resolves after thoroughly examining all the 
testimony and all the facts that by a unanimous vote they judge 
that the regiments von Lossberg, von Knyphausen and Rail, 
now d'Angelelli, cannot be blamed for any want of courage, pre- 
mature retreat or insubordination at the surprise at Trenton, and 
they believe that the commanders of the regiments, the other offi- 
cers, the regiments themselves, the guards and pickets, the watch 


at the bridge under Sergeant Mueller and the detachment of 
artillery all did their duty. 

The following is a list of the living officers as far as known : — 

Regiment von Lossberg. i. Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer ; 2. 
Major von Hanstein ; 3. Captain now Major von Altenbockum ; 
4. Captain Steding ; 5. Lieutenant now Captain Piel ; 6. Lieu- 
tenant Zoll ; 7. Lieutenant von Hobe ; 8. Lieutenant Miiller ; 
9. Lieutenant Schwabe ; 10. Lieutenant Hille ; 11. Lieutenant 
Hendorff ; 12. Lieutenant Grabe ; 13. Ensign von Zengen and 
14. Bombardier Volprecht. 

Regiment von Knyphausen. i. Captain von Biesenrodt ; 2. 
Captain Schimmelpfennig ; 3. Lieutenant now Captain Baum ; 
4. Lieutenant now Captain Wiederhold ; 5. Lieutenant now Cap- 
tain Vaupell ; 6. Lieutenant von Romrodt ; 7. Lieutenant von 
Sobbe ; 8. Lieutenant von Ferry ; 9. Lieutenant von Geyso ; 10. 
Ensign now Lieutenant von Dracli ; 11. Ensign now Lieutenant 
Zimmermann ; 12. Sergeant Mueller. 

Regiment Rail, now d' Atigelelli. i. Captain now Major Bo- 
king ; 2. Lieutenant now Captain Salzmann ; 3. Ensign Fleck ; 
4. Artillery Lieutenant Engelhardt. 

Yager Corps. Corporal Frank Georg Bauer. 
We desire to acquit all these officers and if the verdict is con- 
firmed we wish to have it announced in public orders and pub- 
lished in the newspapers here and in Cassel for the justification 
of the regiments. We also humbly pray that his Highness will 
grant these regiments new flags. 

New York, January nth 1782 



No. 72. Report of Hessian War Commission. 


Most gracious Prince and Lord : 

The War Commission humbly ask for a full pardon in the 
case of the survivirig officers at the surprise at Trenton. We 
• agree with the court that the sentence should be published in 
the gazettes and that permission be granted to carry new colors. 
The Commission would also point out the notable defects in the 
lines of testimony and they would refer to the premature publica- 


tion of the opinion of the court by Auditor Lotheisen, and before 
the full statement of facts had been given to him. According 
to the records, by order of the English General Grant several 
regiments were given to the command of Colonel von Donop 
and winter quarters were assigned them in and around Trenton 
on December 13, 1776. Thereupon Colonel von Donop occupied 
the posts as ordered and Colonel Rail took command at Trenton 
of the Alt-Lossberg, Knyphausen and his own regiment with 
the artillery belonging thereto, the yagers and twenty English 
dragoons. They made an effective force of about 1200 men, 
were all selected for services well performed, and they took pos- 
session of Trenton December 14, 1776. Colonel Rail neglected 
however to protect his position by redoubts, where the safety of 
the village required them. Colonel von Donop instructed him, 
through Captains Pauli and Martin, to erect them, but he only 
posted a few detachments and picket-guards. He required his 
men to sleep with their clothing on and with their arms, over 
night at their quarters, and later he changed this, taking a regi- 
ment at a time in turn to be prepared for attack. On the 20* of 
December he made a request of Brigadier General Leslie at 
Princeton and Major General Grant at Brunswick, as Princeton 
was twelve miles from Trenton, to place a detachment of two 
hundred men at Maidenhead, as he feared the enemy would 
interrupt communication between the two places. He received 
the reply that this was unnecessary because of the small number 
and wretched condition of the enemy. But Colonel Rail still 
thinking the condition of his post dangerous sent out strong 
patrols toward Princeton and then called them back to Trenton. 
In the meanwhile several American officers in disguise presented 
themselves to him, and under the pretext of soliciting protection, 
spied out all his preparations. On the 25* of December, the 
day before the surprise, the picket on the Pennington road was 
attacked and six men were wounded. Major von Dechow then 
requested Colonel Rail to order the baggage packed and sent to 
the grenadiers. Colonel Rail replied " Fudge ! these country 
clowns canrwt whip us ! " Nevertheless he reinforced the picket 
on the Pennington road by a detachment under Lieutenant Wie- 
derhold and ordered his men to remain awake during the night 
at the alarm houses. Major von Dechow, who on December 
26'*' should have gone out with the patrol two hours before day- 


light, with two cannon and the required men, notwithstanding 
the anxiety he had the day before expressed, neglected his duty 
and the patrol did not march. Colonel Rail, on that morning 
slept until half past seven o'clock and Lieutenant Wiederhold 
and the picket had already at that time exchanged shots with the 
enemy. Lieutenant Piel of the von Lossberg regiment, Adjutant 
of the brigade, finding Colonel Rail asleep between five and six 
o'clock and again at half past seven o'clock hesitated to wake 
him and report the attack of the enemy. He went however to 
the watch guard quarters and sent out a few men to aid the 
pickets. On returning he saw Colonel Rail standing at the window 
in his night clothes and to his question " What is the matter .■' 
What is the matter.? " he replied " Do you not hear the firing ? " 
Colonel Rail answered " I will be there immediately." In the 
meantime Lieutenant Wiederhold had withdrawn his men on the 
approach and constant firing of four battalions of the enemy, 
which was followed by their whole force amounting to from five 
to eight thousand men, and waited on the outskirts of the town 
until the regiments should come out. During this time the enemy 
gained the heights of the town with their cannon and howitzers. 
Lieutenants Engelhardt and Fischer of the artillery fired their 
field pieces at the enemy several tirnes but the loss of eight gun- 
ners and five horses prevented the use of the cannon and the 
officers were compelled to retire. After the loss of the cannon 
Rail's regiment withdrew from their position in great confusion 
and in disorder rushed through both the other regiments. Ensign 
Kleinschmidt, Adjutant of the regiment, tried as much as possible 
to restore order again. Colonel Rail then with his own and the 
von Lossberg regiment attacked the town, already advantageously 
occupied by the enemy. He directed Major von Dechow to 
protect their flank with the von Knyphausen regiment. This 
regiment was therefore obliged to separate itself from the others, 
and to march with the Von Lossberg cannon to the bridge in 
order to hold it, but one piece however was sunk in the morass. 
So much time was lost in endeavoring to recover the cannon 
from the swamp that before the regiments reached the bridge it 
was occupied by the enemy. Colonel Rail was forced to give up 
the town because the force of the enemy was so great. And in 
the conflict he received a fatal wound and the command fell upon 
Lieutenant Colonel Scheffer. He was anxious to break through 


the enemy and make his escape with the von Lossberg and the 
Rail regiments, numbering then 483 effective men, but because of 
the enemy's advantageous position, their dispositions, their strong 
artillery fire, as well as the bad weather which apparently pre- 
vented the guns from going off and rendered them useless, they 
were compelled to surrender. Major von Dechow then with the 
von Knyphausen regiment, numbering 276 men, wished to retreat 
through the stream. But he received a severe wound and had 
to give over his command to Captain von Biesenrodt. He was 
then informed that the other two regiments had been taken pris- 
oners and that he also with his regiment must surrender. Cap- 
tain von Lowenstein, who brought this message to Captain von 
Biesenrodt, failed to mention that in that neighborhood there 
was a place in the creek where the water was only knee-deep. 
Captain von Biesenrodt had no intention of surrendering, as 
Major von Dechow advised, but resolved to retreat through the 
woods. He found however this plan was defeated by the occu' 
pation of the wood by the enemy, and he then had the creek 
sounded and directed his regiment to march through it. He 
ordered an officer and 40 men to cover their retreat, and placed 
himself with the rear guard. But the accomplishment of this 
design was thwarted by the strong advance of Lord Stirling's 
brigade, their position having been discovered by the display of 
a white handkerchief on a spontoon by Major von Dechow, and 
he was forced then to capitulate. All this shows that Colonel 
Rail and Major von Dechow in many respects acted culpably, 
and laid the foundations for the ill fate of the brigade. All the 
surviving officers should therefore be absolved from the penalty 
passed upon them by the court-martial. The War Commission 
finds these to be the facts in the case and agrees with it the more 
readily, because the members of the court, by their accurate 
knowledge of the localities and of the accompanying circum- 
stances of the case, are in the best condition to judge of its 
merits. But the War Commission is of the opinion that the refer- 
ence to the publication of the sentence in the gazettes and the 
gracious permission to carry the flags does not properly belong 
to the penalty but rather belongs to the mercy of his Highness. 
They also think a reprimand should be given on account of the 
defects in the hearings; also that the Auditor should not have 


allowed his own opinions to have been communicated to the 
court-martial before the sentence had been announced. 
And we ever remain in deepest reverence, 
Your Serene Highness' humble, most obedient and faithful 

Bardeleben Schlieffen 

Wakenitz Jungkenn 

Wangermann Schramm 
Cassel 1 5 April 1782. 

No. 73. Colonel Cadwalader to General Washington. 

Bristol 26 December 1776 

The river was so full of ice that it was impossible to pass 
above Bristol, where I intended ; and therefore I concluded to 
make an attempt at Dunk's Ferry. As soon as it was dark I 
sent down all the boats I could muster and marched down about 
eight o'clock. I embarked a few men to line the river and pre- 
vent any person from escaping to give intelligence to the enemy : 
and these were followed by a part of the first battalion of militia, 
then two field-pieces, with which I went over to see if it was 
practicable to land them ; and upon examination I found it was 
impossible the ice being very thick. Upon reporting this to the 
field-officers, they were all of opinion, that it would not be proper 
to proceed without cannon. During this time the third battalion 
was landed. We concluded to withdraw the troops that had 
passed, but could not effect it till near four o'clock this morning. 
The whole then were ordered to march for Bristol. I imagine 
the badness of the night must have prevented you from passing 
over as you intended. Our men turned out cheerfully. We had 
about eighteen hundred rank and file, including artillery. It will 
be impossible for the enemy to pass the river till the ice will 
bear. Would it not be proper to attempt to cross below and 
join General Putnam, who was to go over from Philadelphia 
today, with five hundred men, which number, added to the four 
hundred Jersey militia which Colonel Griffin left there, would 
make a formidable body. This would cause a diversion, that 
would favor any attempt you may design in future, and would 
expose their baggage and stores, if they attempt to cross. It is 
impossible, in our present situation, to cooperate with General 


Putnam. The militia will be easier kept together by being in 
motion. We shall have some service from Colonel Hitchcock's 
brigade, whose term of enlistment will be up in a few days. We 
have procured a considerable number of shoes, stockings and 
breeches for them. They are in good spirits and enlist very fast. 
I am Sir, with great respect, 

Your most obedient, humble servant 

John Cadwalader. 

No. 74. General Leslie to Colonel von Donop. 

Sir : 

I am honoured with yours by Captain Gamble. I am exceed- 
ingly sorry for Colonel Rail and his Brigade. 

I have informed General Grant of your being at AUentown 
this day and told him that I had desired you would remain at 
AUentown, untill you heard further. I have begged of him to 
let me know his pleasure in regard to your motions without loss 
of time. We are told the Rebels crossed over the river and 
carried their Prisoners with them yesterday. I have about 50 
Hessians of Rail's here and 3 officers. 

I am with Respect, Sir, Your most obed't h'lle servant 

A. Leslie 

p. Town Dec. 27th 1776 4 afternoon. 

No. 75. General Leslie to Colonel von Donop. 

Princetown, Saturday morning 2 o'clock. 

Sir : 

About 1400 of the Rebels landed at Trenton yesterday and 
went to Pennington about 3 o'clock in the afternoon from thence 
they intended for Rockyhill there to be met by the Jersey Troops 
and they and another party were to attack the Troops here, in 
consequence of this I must beg of you to march the Troops under 
your command to this Place without Loss of time, which I shall 
inform General Grant of. 

I 've the honour to be Sir Your most obedt h'lle servant 

A. Leslie. 

To CoL. Donop. 



Princetown 5 o'clock Saturday morning 


I sent off two Dragoons at 2 o'clock this morning to inform 
you of two separate Bodies of the rebels intending to attack this 
Place in consequence of which I beg you will march the Troops 
under your command without Loss of Time to this Place. I 
suppose you will order back the heavy Guns that are on the Road 
from South Amboy to Burlington. 

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obed't h'ble servant 

Alex. Leslie. 

No. 76. General Grant to Colonel von Donop. 

Brunswick 28th Dec 1776. 
Sir : 

You will please to march the Troops under your command to 
Princetown where the General has ordered me to station the 
Hessian Grenadiers, Yagers and remains of Rail's Brigade. 

You will please to inform General Leslie when you intend to 
march and as nearly as you can judge about the hour you expect 
to arrive at Princetown. I have desired him to send a Patrol of 
the two Battalions of Light Infantry towards Trenton, when you 
move as he is upon your arrival at Princetown to order a part of 
his Corps to march to Kingston or Six Mile Run, the 2^^ Divi- 
sion to march the day after which Colonel Sterling is to follow 
with the 42"'^ Reg't. 

I have ordered Kohlers Bat. of Hessian Grenadiers to march 
tomorrow from Amboy, if no accident prevents their complying 
with this order, they will be at Princetown the 30th. 

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obed't servant 

James Grant. 

No. 77. General Grant to Colonel von Donop. 

Brunswick 28th Dec 1776. 

You wished some time ago to be stationed at Princetown and 
it is to be hoped you will find it agreeable Winterquarters. Your 
Grenadiers and Yagers have been much fatigued. I am sorry to 
hear you have so many sick and that my Friend Colonel Block is 


of the number. I flatter myself that under your care they will 
all recover soon and have no doubt if they should make an 
attempt on your cantonment that those Rebel Gentlemen would 
have reason to repent it. 

You will be kind enough to form Magazines for the subsistence 
of the Troops under your command agreeable to the General's 
Instruction at Trenton. 

I have wrote to the General for a supply of ammunition for 
your three pounders and the Troops. Powder and Ball shall be 
sent and you will be so good as to order Cartridges to be made, 
when you are furnished with the materials, in the mean time I 
have desired General Leslie to let you have all he can spare 
before he leaves you. 

It is not in my Power to leave Colonel Sterling with you, but 
I have ordered him not to march till Kohler's Reg't arrives at 
Princetown, they are to disembark to-morrow morning at Araboy 
and are to join you as soon as possible. 

You shall have a State of our new Cantonments as soon as 
fixed. I had the honour to receive your Letter by Mr. Henry, 
who sets out in the morning and I am Sir, 

Your most obed't servant 

James Grant 

No. 78. Colonel von Donop to General Grant. 

Princeton 29th Dec. 1776 
Sir : 

This morning at six o'clock Lieutenant Henry brought your 
reply to me of yesterday in which you seem to place much confi- 
dence in me. I am very much obliged, my General, and I hope 
that you will never be mistaken if the occasion presents itself. 
This is what appears to be my actual situation and I confess to 
you that I am somewhat embarrassed, finding myself alone after 
the departure of Colonel Sterling. He was a reliable man and 
one able to interpret for me. I am now obliged to guess the 
meaning of your letters by the sense of the paragraphs, not being 
able to understand your language fully. Thus I am obliged to 
exercise much ingenuity in deciphering your orders. The same 
thing happens to me when the country people come to me to 
give me news of the movements of the army of Washington, who 
in my opinion ought to be driven immediately to the other side 


of the Delaware river. I do not believe at all that they have 
more than 500 of our men as prisoners which number cannot 
surely weaken our army. I acknowledge however that the shame 
is none the less for our nation to have lost six cannon, with 
fifteen banners and three regiments at one attack and this in a 
section of the country greatly demoralized. Colonel Rail was to 
have been buriefi with his Lievitenant Colonel -^ yesterday. I am 
very well satisfied becavise they would have been compelled to 
appear before a Court Martial, the former to explain his general 
conduct and the latter why he did not go out in the morning with 
Rail's patrol. You order me to make a store house here but I 
do not find Captain Gamble who is I think with you, although I 
have not given him permission to go away from here. I have 
however found one of the Commissary's who has told me that it 
was afterward arranged to have one of the Commissary's here. 
The two six pounders which belong to the 42"^ Regiment please 
give orders whether or not they are to remain with me. I desire 
very much that General Leslie should march as 400 men slept 
last night in the open air. You can imagine what must happen 
to my men. All sick. 

I am, with the greatest consideration Sir, your most h'lle serv't 


No. 79. General Washington to Colonel Cadwalader. 
Head Quarters, Newtown Deer. 27th 1776. 

Dear Sir : I was just now favored with your two letters of the 
25th and 26th instant, and regret much the cause that prevented 
your passing the river : had it not been for this accident I am 
persuaded our plans would have been accomplished to our utmost 
wishes. The same obstacle hindered Genl. Ewing from giving 
his aid and co-operating in the attack on Trenton. Could we 
have had his force to have secured the pass over the bridges, the 
whole of the enemy must have fallen into our hands ; but avail- 
ing themselves of this circumstance, all that could, retreated 
with the greatest precipitation without making the least opposi- 
tion. Those that remained, drew up, but in such confusion and 
disorder that they were incapable of making a successful resist- 
ance. You have the number of officers &c below. The damage 
we sustained was very inconsiderable, not more than a private or 
1 Major von Dechow. 


two killed, one or two wounded, and Captn. Washington of the 
Third Virginia Regiment. I should have most certainly pursued 
those that retreated had it not been for the distressed situation 
of my Troops (about Three or four & twenty hundred in number) 
who had experienced the greatest fatigue in breaking a passage 
thro the ice, and all the severities of rain & storm. This with 
the apprehension that we could receive no succours, and that the 
difficulty of passing & repassing the River might become greater, 
led us to conclude our return eligible. The officers & men who 
were engaged in the enterprize behaved with great firmness, 
perseverance, and bravery and such as did them the highest 

I shall be extremely ready, and it is my earnest wish to pursue 
every means that shall seem probable to distress the enemy and 
to promise success on our part. If we could happily beat up the 
rest of their Quarters, bordering on and near the River, it would 
be attended with the most valuable consequences. I have called 
a meeting of the General Officers to consult of what measures 
shall be next pursued & would recommend that you & Genl. 
Putnam should defer your intended operations till you hear from 
me. Perhaps it may be judged prudent for us to pass here with 
the force we have, if it is practicable, or if it is not that I may 
come down to you & afford every assistance in my power. We 
will try to concert a plan & upon such principles as shall appear 
to promise success. Please to give me frequent information of 
the state of the River, & whether it is to be passed in Boats or 
whether the Ice will admit of a passage. 

I am in haste, Dr Sir With much esteem Yr. most obedt. servt 

Go. Washington 


1 Col. 2 Lieut. Cols. 3 Majors 4 Captains 8 Lieuts. 12 Ensigns 

2 Surgeon's Mates, 92 Sergeants 20 Drummers 9 Musicians 25 
Servants 740 Rank & file 

Total 919, about 25 or 30 killed, 6 pieces of Brass Artillery, from 
900 to 1000 stand arms &c 
To Col. John Cadwalader. 


No. 80. General Washington to the Congress. 

Newtown, 29 December 1776. 

I am just setting out to attempt a second passage over the 
Delaware with the troops that were with me on the morning of 
the 26"\ I am determined to effect it if possible : but know that 
it will be attended with much fatigue and difficulty on account 
of the ice, which will neither allow us to cross on foot, nor give 
us an easy passage with boats. General Cadwalader crossed 
from Bristol on the 27''% and, by his letter of yesterday, was at 
Bordentown with about eighteen hundred men. In addition to 
these General Mifflin sent over five hundred from Philadelphia 
on Friday, three hundred yesterday evening from Burlington and 
will follow today with seven or eight hundred more. I have 
taken every precaution in my power for subsisting the troops and 
shall, without loss of time, and as soon as circumstances will 
admit of it, pursue the enemy in their retreat — try to beat up 
more of their quarters — and in a word adopt in every instance 
such measures as the exigency of our affairs requires, and our 
situation will justify. 

Had it not been for the unhappy failure of Generals Ewing 
and Cadwalader in their attempt to pass, on the night of the 25''', 

— and if the several concerted attacks could have been made — 
I have no doubt that our views would have succeeded to our 
warmest expectations. What was done occasioned the enemy to 
leave their several posts on the Delaware with great precipita- 
tion. The peculiar distresses to which the troops, who were with 
me, were reduced by the severities of cold, rain, snow, and storm 

— the charge of the prisoners they had taken, and another reason 
that might be mentioned,' and the little prospect of receiving 
succors on account of the season and situation of the river — 
would not authorize a further pursuit at that time. Since trans- 
mitting the list of prisoners, a few more have been discovered and 
taken in Trenton : — among 'em a lieutenant-colonel and a deputy 
adjutant general, — the whole amounting to about a thousand. 

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obe- 
dient servant. 

Go. Washington. 


P. S. I am under great apprehension about obtaining proper 
supplies of provisions for tlie Troops. 1 fear it will be extremely 
difificult, if not impracticable, as the Enemy, from every account 
has taken and collected every thing they could find. 

No. 8 1. British Forces in New Jersey. 

The British and Auxiliary Troops in New Jersey, stationed 
from Elizabeth Town to Maidenhead, may be given as follows : — 

Queen's Rangers ; First, Second, Third and Fourth Battalions 
Light Infantry, British ; First and Second Battalions Grenadiers, 
British ; First Regiment Waldeckers, Hessian ; Battalion von 
Linsingen, Hessian ; Battalion von Minnigerode, Hessian ; Bat- 
talion von Block, Hessian ; Hessian battalion — the escaped 
men of Rail's brigade ; Detachment Chasseurs, British ; Detach- 
ment Yagers, Hessian ; Detachment Royal Artillery, British — 
principally from First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Eighth 
Companies of Fourth Battalion ; Sixteenth Regiment Light Dra- 
goons, British, Lieutenant Colonel the Honorable William Har- 
court, commanding ; Seventeenth Regiment Light Dragoons, 
British, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Birch, commanding. 

Also the following Brigades of British Foot: — 

First Brigade. Major General Robertson's command, which in 
his absence was in charge of Lieutenant Colonel the Honorable 
Henry Monckton, as senior officer ; Fourth Regiment, or " King's 
Own," Major James Ogelvie, commanding ; Twenty-seventh 
Regiment or Inniskilling's, Major Henry Couran, commanding- 
Forty-fifth Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel the Honorable Henry 
Monckton, commanding. 

Second Brigade. Brigadier General Alexander Leslie, com- 
manding; Fifth Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel William Walcott, 
commanding; Twent3'-eighth Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Rob- 
ert Prescott, commanding; Thirty-fifth Regiment, Lieutenant 
Colonel James Cockburne, commanding ; Forty-ninth Regiment, 
Major Thomas Dilkes, commanding. 

Fourth Brigade. Major General Grant's command, but in 
charge of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood ; Seventeenth 
Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood, commanding; 
Fortieth Regiment, Major Samuel Bradstreet, commanding, in 
the absence of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Musgrave ; Fifty-fifth 
Regiment, Major Cornelius Cuyler, commanding. 


Sixth Brigade. Major General James Agnew commanding; 
Twenty-third Regiment, or Royal Welsh Fuzileers, Lieutenant 
Colonel Benjamin Bernard, commanding; Forty-sixth Regiment, 
Lieutenant Colonel Enoch Markham, commanding. 

Two other temporary brigades had been formed. One under 
command of Lieutenant Colonel Sterling, as senior officer, was 
composed of : 

Forty-second Regiment or Royal Highland Watch, Lieutenant 
Colonel Thomas Sterling, commanding ; Seventy-first or Scotch 
Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell, commanding. 

The other temporary brigade under command of Brigadier 
General Mathew consisted of : 

First Battalion of British Guards, Second Battalion of British 

No. 82. General Mifflin's Orders. 

General Mifflin issued these orders on the last day of the year 
1776, and the first day of the year following : — 


BoRDENTOWN, December 31, 1776. 
The General returns his most hearty thanks to the brigade for 
the Alertness shown by them on the Alarm last Evening. Such 
Conduct does them Honour and gives their Commanding Officer 
the best expectations of success. He recommends to all officers 
of the Brigade to hold their respective Corps in complete order 
for Marching at a minute's warning for which purpose they must 
prevent their Men from strolling too far from their quarters. A 
party of 200 Men goes out this day to harrass the Enemy, 
commanded by Majors Mifflin ^ and Hubley.^ The commanding 
officer to call at Head Quarters in this town for orders. Every 
Man in the brigade must always keep by him dressed Provisions 
for three Days. This Order must not be neglected as the least 
Deviation from it may ruin the best concerted Plans. 

1 Major John Mifflin of Colonel Magaw's Fifth Pennsylvania battal- 
ion. He was evidently in this campaign acting as brigade-major to 
General Mifflin, an office he held prior to September, 1776. 

^ Major Adam Hubley, Tenth Pennsylvania Continental regiment, 
then being organized. 



BoRDENTOWN, January ist 1777 

His Excellency Gen. Washington having last night, by Express, 
ordered the Brigade to be held in readiness to march in the 
Night, or early this morning, at a minute's notice. The Com- 
manding Officer, in obedience to orders, directed the Brigade to 
be paraded at two o'clock, but was surprised to find very little 
Attention paid to the Drums. Had the enemy advanced towards 
this Town at that time, the Army here might have been, to their 
eternal Disgrace and the Ruin of their Country, made Prisoners 
of War. In fu^ture when the Brigade is ordered to be assembled 
by Night or by Day, the long roll will be beat : upon which signal 
every Ofiicer and Soldier must turn out with the greatest alacrity 
and form on their proper Ground in the Street. They are not to 
wait for the Drums beating to Arms. The long roll is the proper 
signal for turning out, and must be attended to, as much as beat- 
ing to Arms. 

Gen. Washington has detached a large Body of Men toward 
the Enemy at Princeton, which in all probability will bring on a 
General Action. The Brigadier General, therefore, exhorts all 
his Officers and men, as they love their Country and wish to see 
her secure and happy, to hold themselves in complete order to 
march at a minute's warning. The reputation of the Brigade 
depends on their Alacrity and Readiness to obey orders and to 
turn out to face their Enemy. 

Dr. Potts,' Surgeon General to the Brigade, requests the offi- 
cers to make returns to him at Head Quarters in this Town of 
their sick and wounded without the least Delay, as the men fre- 
quently suffer much from the neglect of such returns. A Brigade 
hospital will be established this Day to receive the sick &c. 

In future the Guards and Picket are to be paraded near Head 
Quarters at 10 o'clock in the Morning, that the Relief may take 
Place time enough for those who are to be relieved to have their 
Dinners at a seasonable hour. 

Major Holland " is sent by his Excell'y Gen. Washington to 

' Jonathan Potts of Pennsylvania, formerly surgeon for the troops 
on the Canadian Expedition. 

2 Captain Thomas Holland of the Delaware Continental regiment 
died October 13, 1777, of wounds received at the battle of Germantown, 
October 4, 1777. 


assist in forming and arranging the Brigade, which consists of 
many small Corps and of course requires a general Arrangement. 
Unavoidable Difficulties and much Danger would arise from 
having them in their present state. The officers and men are, 
therefore, to pay great Attention to the Arrangement, to know 
their Places, and to be able to form, when Occasion requires in 
an instant. Good Order, Discipline and a Good Cause, are the 
Surest Steps to victory and to Glory. 

The new force then gathered in Burlington County between 
Trenton and Bordentown consisted of : 

Detachments from regiments of the Pennsylvania Continental 
Line then organizing ; Second Regiment, Colonel John Philip De 
Haas ; Tenth Regiment, Colonel James Penrose ; Eleventh Regi- 
ment, Colonel Richard Humpton ; Twelfth Regiment, Colonel 
William Cooke ; and also from the Philadelphia Rifle Battalion, 
Colonel Timothy Matlock. 

Detachments from the following organizations of Pennsylvania 
Associators : 

Lancaster County Battalions of Colonel Bartram Galbraith, 
Colonel James Crawford, Colonel Timothy Green, Colonel 
Thomas Porter, Colonel James Burd and Colonel George Ross ; 
Bedford County Battalion of Colonel John Piper; Northumber- 
land County Battalions of Colonel James Potter, a company of 
Colonel Philip Cole's battalion and Captain John Lee's company 
of Colonel Samuel Hunter's battalions ; Bucks County Battalion 
of Colonel Arthur Erwin ; Cumberland County Battalion of Colo- 
nel Joseph Armstrong ; Northampton County Battalions of Colo- 
nel George Ta)'lor, Colonel Henry Geiger and Colonel Jacob 
Stroud ; Detachment of New Castle County, Delaware Militia, 
Major Thomas Duff, commanding ; a company of Kent County, 
Delaware Militia, Captain Thomas Rodney, commanding ; Four 
companies of Philadelphia Militia, Captain George Henry, senior 
officer, commanding ; a detachment of Marines from the armed 
boat Hancock, Captain William Shippen, commanding; a de- 
tachment of Marines from Ship Montgomery, Captain William 
Brown, commanding ; a detachment of Marines under command 
of Major Samuel Nicholas ; a- detachment of Marines from the 
brigantine Andrew Doria, Captain Isaac Craig, commanding ; a 
detachment of sailors used to firing guns, under command of Cap- 
tain Thomas Read of the Continental Navy. 

No. 83. General Cadwalader to General Washington. 

Crosswicks, 31st December, 1776. 

Sir : 

A very intelligent young gentleman is returned just now from 
Princetown he left there yesterday morning and got in about 12 or 
I o'clock. He would have returned last night, but General Les- 
ley who commands and Colonel Abercrombie would not suffer him 
to go off. He made his escape this morning early, and informs me 
that from the best information he could get, they were about five 
thousand men, consisting of Hessians and British troops — about 
the same number of each. I have made a rough draft of the 
road from this place, the situation of the cannon and works begun 
and those intended this morning. He thinks there are not so 
many as they report. He conversed with some of the officers 
and lodged last night with them. They inquired what were our 
numbers. He mentioned about 16,000 from the best accounts. 
They did not believe we had more than five or six thousand. 
That many were forced into the service, and that they were de- 
serting in great numbers every day. No sentries on the back or 
east end of the town. They parade every morning an hour before 
day and some nights lie on their arms. An attack has been ex- 
pected for several nights past — the men are much fatigued and 
until last night in want of provisions, when a very considerable 
number of wagons arrived with provisions from Brunswick. All 
the baggage is sent to Brunswick, where there are but few men. 
This confirms the accounts I sent you last night. About fifty 
light horse at Princeton, one half quartered at Scudder's mill, 
the other on the west of the town. He inquired if there were 
any troops on the road. They say there are more on this side 
Brunswick. Some Hessians arrived yesterday (it is said) from 
Brunswick. I suppose they were those that landed at South 
Amboy as I cannot hear anything of them in this neighbourhood. 
I received your last letter last night by express. Our spy was 
near the party of chasseurs when they were taken and says an 
assistant quarter master general or commissary was with them. 
The enemy had heard it. Major Mifflin ^ is just setting off with 
a party of two hundred from Cumberland. Major Nicholas of 

^ Major John Mifflin, acting on the staff of General Mifflin. 


the Marines '■ informs me that Ehsha Laurence,^ late sheriff of 
Monmouth, is now collecting men at Monmouth Court House : 
he has got together about seventy men. He has put twenty men 
into prison for refusing to bear arms. The person who brings 
the intelligence fled. Major Nicholas is desirous of going after 
Laurence's party. I think it is not an object at this time ; and 
have refused the application till I have your order. 
I am, Sir, your most obedient, very humble servant 

John Cadwalader. 


No. 84. General Washington to the Congress. 

Trenton i January 1777. 

On Monday morning I passed the Delaware myself : the whole 
of our troops and artillery not till yesterday, owing to the ice, 
which rendered their passage extremely difficult and fatiguing. 
Since their arrival, we have been parading the regiments whose 
time of service is now expired, in order to know what force we 
should have to depend on and how to regulate our views accord- 
ingly. After much persuasion, and the exertions of their officers, 
half or a greater proportion of those from the eastward have con- 
sented to stay six weeks on a bounty of ten dollars. I feel the 
inconvenience of this advance, and I know the consequence which 
will result from it : but what could be done ? Pennsylvania had 
allowed the same to her militia : the troops felt their importance, 
and would have their price. Indeed, as their aid is so essential 
and not to be dispensed with, it is to be wondered at, that they 
had not estimated it at a higher rate. I perceive that Congress, 
apprehensive of this event, had made unlimited provision for it. 

General Mifflin is at Bordentown with about eighteen hundred 
men and General Cadwalader at Croswix's with about the same 
number. We are now making our arrangements, and concerning 
a plan of operations, which I shall attempt to execute as soon as 
possible and which I hope will be attended with some success. 
As to the number and situation of the enemy, I cannot obtain 
certain intelligence ; but from the accounts most to be relied on, 

^ Major Samuel Nicholas of Philadelphia. 

2 Lieutenant-Colonel Elisha Laurence, First battalion, New Jersey 
volunteers, loyalists. 


they have collected the principal part of their force from Bruns- 
wic and the neighbouring posts, at Princeton, where they are 
throwing up some works. The number there is reported to be 
from five to six thousand : and it is confidently said they have 
sent the chief part of their baggage to Brunswic. It is added, 
that General Howe landed at Amboy a day or two ago with a 
thousand light troops, and is on his march from thence. 

I have the honour to be, with due respect &c 

Go. Washington. 

P. S. I have not been able to procure returns of our force, 
owing to our situation. I suppose that about two or three and 
twenty hundred passed with me, which number is now reduced 
to fifteen or sixteen hundred. No estimate of our force can be 
formed from the number of regiments : many of them, by reason 
of sickness, cannot turn out more than a hundred men. 

No. 85. General Knox to his Wife. 

Trenton 2d Jan. 1777. 
We are collecting our force at this place, and shall give battle 
to the enemy very soon. Our people have exerted great fortitude, 
and stayed beyond the time of their enlistment, in high spirits, 
but want rum and clothing. Will it give you satisfaction or plea- 
sure in being informed that the Congress have created me a gen- 
eral officer — a brigadier — with the entire command of the artil- 
lery.' If so, I shall be happy. It was unsolicited on ray part, 
though I cannot say unexpected. People are more lavish in their 
praises of my poor endeavours than they deserve. All the merit 
I can claim is industry. I wish to render my devoted country 
every service in my power ; and the only alloy I have in my exer- 
tions is, that it separates me from thee — the dearest object of 
all my earthly happiness. May Heaven give us a speedy and 
happy meeting. The attack of Trenton was a most horrid scene 
to the poor inhabitants. War, my Lucy, is not a humane trade, 
and the man who follows (it) as such will meet with his proper 
demerits in another world. 


No. 86. Colonel Reed to General Putnam. 

East side of Trenton Creek January 2d 1777, 

twelve o'clock at night 

Dear General Putnam ; 

The enemy advanced upon us today. We came to the east 
side of the river or creek, which runs through Trenton, when it 
was resolved to make a forced march and attack the enemy in 
Princeton. In order to do this with the greatest security our 
baggage is sent off to Burlington. His Excellency begs you will 
march immediately forward with all the force you can collect at 
Crosswicks where you will find a very advantageous post : your 
advanced party at AUentown. You will also send a good guard 
for our baggage wherever it may be. Let us hear from you as 
often as possible. We shall do the same by you. 

Yours, J. Reed. 

To Major-Gen ERAL Putnam, Mount Holly. 

No. 87. General Putnam to . 

II o'clock Philada 3rd Jany 1777 

Gentlemen : 

I have the honor to inform you that I have this Morning by 
Captain Nicholson Advice of an Action yesterday at Trenton. 
Gen' Howe advanced with his whole Strength (supposed 7000) 
toward Trenton, & was met by Stirling's & Hand's Brigades a 
small Distance from that Place. The action commenced at i 
oClock P. M. & continued till Sunsett. Our two Brigades (who 
opposed the British Army) retreated across a Bridge to the main 
Body which were posted on this Side a Rivulet which divides the 
Town. In this Situation my Author left the Armies last evening 
— no considerable Loss was sustained on either Side. A Can- 
nonade began about Sunrise this Morning & still continues. I 
have ordered the Gallies & all the Boats which can be collected, 
to move up the River immediately — I am dispatching about 
1000 Militia which have come in from different Parts of this 
State. It is needless to insist on the Necessity of forwarding 
every Man that is inlisted. You must be equally sensible with 
me that the fate of a Winter depends probably on the exertions 
of a few Days 

I have the Honour to be Gentlemen with the greatest 
Esteem your most humi Serv't 

Israel Putnam. 

No. 88. From the Journal of Captain Thomas Rodney. 

(Original journal belonging to iWr. Caesar A. Rodney of Wilmington, Dela- 

January 3d 1777. 

At two o'clock this morning, tlie ground having been frozen 
firm by a keen N. West wind, secret orders were issued to each 
department and the whole army was at once put in motion, but 
no one knew what the Gen. meant to do. Some thought that 
we were going to attack the enemy in the rear ; some that we 
were going to Princeton : the latter proved to be right. We 
went by a bye road on the right hand which made it about 16 
miles. During this nocturnal march I with the Dover Company 
and the Red Feather Company of Philadelphia Light Infantry 
led the van of the army and Capt. Henry with the other three 
companies of Philadelphia Light Infantry brought up the rear. 
The van moved on all night in the most cool and determined 
order, but on the march great confusion happened in the rear. 
There was a cry that they were surrounded by the Hessians and 
several corps of Militia broke and fled towards Bordentown, but 
the rest of the column remained firm and pursued their march 
without disorder, but those who were frightened and fled did not 
recover from their panic until they reached Burlington. When 
we had proceeded to within a mile and a half of Princeton and 
the van had crossed Stony Brook, Gen. Washington ordered our 
Infantry to file off to one side of the road and halt. Gen. Sulli- 
van was ordered to wheel to the right and flank the town on that 
side, and two Brigades were ordered to wheel to the left, to make 
a circuit and surround the town on that side and as they went to 
break down the Bridge and post a party at the mill on the main 
road, to oppose the enemy's main army if they should pursue us 
from Trenton. The third Division was composed of Gen. Mer- 
cer's Brigade of Continental troops, about 300 men, and Cad- 
walader's brigade of Philadelphia Militia to which brigade the 
whole of our Light Infantry Regiment was again annexed. Mer- 
cer's brigade marched in front and another corps of infantry 
brought up the rear. My company flanked the whole brigade 
on the right in an Indian file so that my men were very much 
extended and distant from each other ; I marched in front and 
was followed by Sarjeant M^Knatt and next to him was Nehe- 
miah Tilton. Mercer's Brigade which was headed by Col. Haslet 


of Delaware on foot and Gen. Mercer on horseback was to march 
straight on to Princeton without turning to the right or left. It 
so happened that two Regiments of British troops that were on 
their march to Trenton to reinforce their army there, received 
intelligence of the movements of the American Army (for the sun 
rose as we passed over Stony Brook) and about a mile from 
Princeton they turned off from the main road and posted them- 
selves behind a long string of buildings and an orchard on the 
straight road to Princeton. The two first Divisions of our army 
therefore passed wide to the right and left, and leaving them 
undiscovered went in to Princeton. Gen. Mercer's Brigade, owing 
to some delay in arranging Cadwalader's men, had advanced 
several hundred yards ahead and never discovered the enemy 
until he was turning the buildings they were posted behind, and 
then they were not more than fifty yards off. He immediately 
formed his men, with great courage, and poured a heavy fire in 
upon the enemy. But they being greatly superior in number 
returned the fire and charged bayonets, and their onset was so 
fierce that Gen. Mercer fell mortally wounded and many of his 
officers \yere killed, and the brigades being effectually broken 
up, began a disorderly flight. Col. Haslet retired some small 
distance behind the buildings and endeavored to rally them, but 
receiving a bullet through his head, dropt dead on the spot and 
the whole brigade fled in confusion. At this instant Gen. Cad- 
walader's Philadelphia Brigade came up and the enemy checked 
by their appearance took post behind a fence and a ditch in front 
of the buildings before mentioned, and so extended themselves 
that every man could load and fire incessantly; the fence stood 
on low ground between two hills ; on the hill behind the British 
line they had eight pieces of artillery which played incessantly 
with round and grape shot on our brigade, and the fire was 
extremely hot. Yet Gen. Cadwalader led up the head of the 
column with the greatest bravery to within 50 yards of the 
enemy, but this was rashly done, for he was obliged to recoil ; 
and leaving one piece of his artillery, he fell back about 40 yards 
and endeavoured to form the brigade, and some companies did, 
form and gave a few vollies, but the fire of the enemy was so hot, 
that, at the sight of the Regular troops running to the rear, the 
militia gave way and the whole brigade broke and most of them 
retired to a woods about 150 yards in the rear:. But two. pieces 


of artillery stood their ground and were served with great skill 
and bravery. At this time a field officer was sent to order me to 
take post on the left of the artillery, until the brigade should 
form again, and, with the Philadelphia Infantry keep up a fire 
from some stacks and buildings, and to assist the artillery in 
preventing the enemy from advancing. We now crossed the 
enemy's fire from right to Left and took position behind some 
stacks just on the left of the artillery ; and about 30 of the Phila- 
delphia Infantry were under cover of a house on our left and a 
little in the rear. About 150 of my men came to this post, but I 
could not keep them all there, for the enemies fire was dreadful 
and three balls, for they were very thick, had grazed me : one 
passed within my elbow nicking my great coat and carried away 
the breech of Sarjeant M'^Knatts gun, he being close behind me, 
another carried away the inside edge of one of my shoe soles, 
another had nicked my hat and indeed they seemed as thick as 
hail. From these stacks and buildings we, with the two pieces 
of Artillery kept up a continuous fire on the enemy, and in all 
probability it was this circumstance that prevented the enemy 
from advancing, for they could not tell the number we had posted 
behind these covers and were afraid to attempt passing them ; 
but if they had known how few they were they might easily have 
advanced while the two brigades were in confusion and routed 
the whole body, for it was a long time before they could be reor- 
ganized again, and indeed many, that were panic struck, ran 
quite off. Gen. Washington having rallied both Gen. Mercer's 
and Gen. Cadwalader's brigade, they moved forward and when 
they came to where the Artillery stood began a very heavy platoon 
fire on the march. This the enemy bore but a few minutes and 
then threw down their arms and ran. We then pushed forwards 
towards the town spreading over the fields and through the woods 
to enclose the enemy and take prisoners. The fields were covered 
with baggage, which the Gen. ordered to be taken care of. Our 
whole force met at the Court House and took there about 200 
prisoners and about 200 others pushed off and were pursued by 
advanced parties who took about 50 more. In this engagement 
we lost about 20 killed, the enemy about 100 men killed and lost 
the field. This is a very pretty little town on the York road 12 
miles from Trenton ; the houses are built of brick and are very 
elegant especially the College which has 52 rooms in it; but the 


whole town has been ravaged and ruined by the enemy. As soon 
as the enemy's main army heard our cannon at Princeton (and 
not 'til then) they discovered our manouvre and pushed after us 
with all speed and we had not been above an hour in possession 
of the town before the enemy's light horse and advanced parties 
attacked our party at the bridge, but our people by a very heavy 
fire kept the pass until our army left the town. Just as our army 
began our march through Princetown with all their prisoners and 
spoils the van of the British army we had left at Trenton came 
in sight, and entered the town about an hour after we left it, but 
made no stay and pushed on towards Brunswick for fear we 
should get there before him, which was indeed the course our 
General intended to pursue had he not been detained too long in 
collecting the Baggage and Artillery which the enemy had left 
behind him. Our army marched on to Kingston then wheeled 
to the left and went down the Millstone, keeping that River on 
our left ; the main body of the British followed, but kept on 
through Kingston to Brunswick ; but one division or a strong 
party of horse took the road on the left of the Millstone and 
arrived on the hill, at the bridge on that road just as the van of 
the American Army arrived on the opposite side. I was again 
commanding the van of our army, and General Washington see- 
ing the enemy, rode forward and ordered me to halt and take 
down a number of carpenters which he had ordered forward and 
break up the bridge, which was done and the enemy were obliged 
to return. We then marched on to a little village called Stone 
Brook or Summerset Court House about 15 miles from Princeton 
where we arrived just at dusk. About an hour before we arrived 
here 150 of the enemy from Princeton and 50 which were stationed 
in this town went off with 20 wagons laden with Clothing and 
Linen, and 400 of the Jersey militia who surrounded them were 
afraid to fire on them and let them go off unmolested and there 
were no troops in our army fresh enough to pursue them, or the 
whole might have been taken in a few hours. Our army now 
was extremely fatigued not having had refreshment since yesterday 
morning, and our baggage had all been sent away the morning 
of the action at Trenton : yet they are in good health and in high 


MoRRiSTOWN January 6th 1777 
We left Pluckemin this morning and arrived at Morristown just 
before sunset. The order of march, was first a small advance 
guard, next the officers who were prisoners, next my Light Infantry 
Regiment, in columns of four deep ; next the prisoners flanked 
by the riflemen, next the head of the main column, with the Artil- 
lery in front. Our whole Light Infantry are quartered in a very 
large house belonging to Col. Ford having 4 Rooms on a floor 
and Two stories high. This town is. situated among the moun- 
tains of Morris County, about 18 miles from Elizabethtown, 28 
from Brunswick and 20 from Carroll's Ferry. 

No. 8g. Private Lardner to Captain Smith. 

Dear Sir 

I thank you for the papers you sent me relating to the first 
Troop. The journal of Col. Reed Adjutant Gen' of the Army, I 
read with peculiar interest, it is a valuable state paper. 

A document coming from one so intimately acquainted with 
all the events of the day, will always be interesting, tho' but for 
the short period of 7 days. I am forceably struck, however inac- 
curacies creep into history. Marshal in relating the account of 
the attack at Trenton & the retreat to Princeton, takes one fact 
on the credit of the British account. Viz., that the army " took a 
circuitous rout thro' Allentown to Princeton". This would have 
been impossible, being more than double the distance of that 
taken by Washington by Quaker bridge. Instead of 6 or 7 hours 
it would have taken nearly the whole of the next day & exhausted 
the troops. In the B. History of the War, published in London 
1780 p. 387 it says "They marched with such expedition towards 
Princeton, that tho' they took a circuit by Allentown, partly to 
avoid the Brigade which lay at Maidenhead" &c 

On the evening of i Jany 1777 a party of the Troop George 
Campbell, James Caldwell, myself & I think another, were posted 
as a patrole on this very road. We remained on it the whole 
night, occasionally going as high as Quaker bridge. We found 
that the Enemy had no patroles there, and that apparently they 
had no knowledge of it. Along this road Washington led his 
army the following night, on the memorable retreat, Sz: with which 
he must have been made acquainted or the patroles would nof 
have been placed there. 


From my own knowledge I have the best reason to doubt 
Gen'l Wilkinson's statement, where he says Vol. I. 140 — "Gen'I 
St Clair had been charged with the guard of the fords of the 
Assampink & in the course of the day (2'' Jani'y) whilst examin- 
ing the ground to the right, he had fallen on the Quaker bridge." 
I am a living witness it was familiar to others some time before. 
But Wilkinson in another place observes, that the practicability 
of the rout was well understood by Colonel Reed the Adjutant 
Genl. — Surely it was. 

I well remember the circumstance of the Council sitting near 
to where the Troop was station'd, on the evening of the 2'^ Janry, 
and to have heard it confidently mentioned the next day & 
repeatedly afterwards as the universal sentiment — that the 
thought of the movement that night originated entirely with 
Washington — solely his own manoeuvre. 

I now give a list from my best recollection, of the gentlemen 
who served in that campaign. Mr. Nesbitt was not then a mem- 
ber, tho' with the army as an officer in a City Corps, he joined 
us immediately upon our getting home. Mr. Howell was not one 
of the first members — he came in about i Decem 1776. Mr. 
Peters was not an original member, we had all been of the Green 
light Infantry the year before. 

List according to (nearly) seniority of age or standing 

1 Samuel Morris Captain 12 John'Dunlap 

2 Levi Hollingsworth 13 James Hunter 

3 George Campbell 14 Thomas Leiper 

4 Blair M'^Clenachan 15 Thomas Leaming 

5 Samuel Caldwell 16 William Hall 

6 John Mease 17 Jonathan Penrose 

7 William Pollard 18 John Donaldson 

8 James Caldwell 19 Thomas Peters 

9 George Gruff (of Lancaster) 20 John Lardner 

10 James Budden 21 Samuel Howell Jun. 

11 William Tod 

I am dear sir with much respect Your obedient Servant, 

John Lardner. 

Tacony, Near Philada July 31, 1824 
Captain Smith. 


No. 90. Congressional News. 

Congress has received the following intelligence from the army 
at Pluckemin, in the State of New-Jersey, January 5, 1777. 

On the second instant the enemy began to advance upon us 
at Trenton ; and, after some skirmishing, the head of their 
column reached that place about four o'clock, whilst their rear 
was as far back as Maidenhead. They attempted to pass San- 
pinck creek, which runs through Trenton, at different places, but 
finding the fords guarded, they halted and kindled their fires. 
We were drawn up on the south side of the creek. In this situa- 
tion we remained till dark, cannonading the enemy, and receiving 
the fire of their field pieces, which did but little damage. 

At twelve o'clock, after renewing our fires and leaving guards 
at the bridge in Trenton, and other passes on the same stream 
above, we marched by a round about road to Princeton. We 
found Princeton, about sunrise, with only three regiments, and 
three troops of lighthorse in it, two of which were on their march 
to Trenton. — These three regiments, especially the two first 
made a gallant resistance ; and in killed, wounded, and prisoners, 
must have lost five hundred men. Upwards of one hundred of 
them were left dead on the field, and with those carried on by 
the army, and such as were taken in the pursuit, and carried 
across the Delaware, there are near three hundred prisoners, 
fourteen of whom are officers — all British. 

Colonels Haselet and Potter, Capt. Neal of the artillery, Capt. 
Flemming, who commanded the first Virginia regiment and four 
or five other valuable officers, with about twenty-five or thirty 
privates, were slain in the field. Our whole loss cannot be ascer- 
tained as many who were in pursuit of the enemy, whom they 
chased three or four miles are not yet come in. We burnt the 
enemy's hay and destroyed such other things as the occasion 
would admit. 

From the best intelligence we have been able to get the enemy 
were so much alarmed at the apprehension of losing their stores, 
at Brunswick, that they marched immediately thither from Tren- 
ton, without halting, and got there before day. 

The militia of the Jersies are taking spirit and we hear coming 
in fast. 


No. 91. Doctor Potts to Owen Biddle. 

(Dr. Jonathan Potts, a Surgeon in the American Army, to Owen Biddle of 


My D'r Friend : 

Tho' the Ac'ct I send is a melancholy one (in one respect) yet 
I have sent an Express, to give you the best Information I can 
collect. Our Mutual Friend, Anthony Morris, died here in three 
hours after he received his wounds on Friday morning. They 
were three in number — one on his chin, one on the knee, and 
the third and fatal one on the right temple, by a grape-shot. 
Brave man ! he fought and died nobly, deserving a much better 
fate. Gen. Mercer is dangerously ill, indeed, I have scarcely any 
hopes of him, the Villains have stab'd him in five different Places. 
The dead on our side of this Place amount to sixteen, that of the 
Enemy to twenty-three. They have retreated to Brunswick with 
the greatest Precipitation, and from Accounts just come, the 
Hero, Washington, is not far from them ! they have never been 
so shamefully Drub'd and outgeneraled in every Respect. I 
hourly expect to hear of their whole Army being cut to pieces, or 
made Prisoners. 

It pains me to inform you that on the morning of the Action I 
was obliged to fly before, the Rascals, or fall into their hands, 
and leave behind me my wounded Brethren ; would you believe 
that the inhuman Monsters rob'd the General as he lay unable to 
resist on the Bed, even to the taking of his Cravat from his 
Neck, insulting him all the Time. 

The number of Prisoners we have taken I cannot yet find out, 
but they are numerous. 

Should be glad to hear from you by the bearer ; is the Rein- 
forcement march'd ? 

I am, in haste, your most obedient humble Serv't 

Jon'n Potts. 

Dated at the Field of Action, near Princeton, Sunday Evening, Jan'y 5th 


No. 92. General Cadwalader to Council of Safety. 

Pluckimin 5th Jan'y 1777 
Gentlemen — 

Our Militia are in great Distress : 

I have not time to inform you of our Successes — 300 prisoners 
were taken at Princetown by the different Parties who pursued & 
those taken in the Town — The Enemy have all left Brunswic 
& I have no doubt will leave this State in a few days — . . 

I am Genl with great Respect Your most obt Servt 

John Cadwalader 
Brig. Gen. 
Directed To the Honble the Council of Safety Philada. 

No. 93. Letter from an Officer of Distinction 

(In General Washington's Army, dated Pluckemin January 5, 1777.) 
I have been so much engaged with marches and counter- 
marches that I have not had a moment to write. We left Cross- 
wicks the first inst. about ten o'clock in the morning and arrived 
a little after sunset at Trenton, through the worst roads that 
were ever seen. About eleven o'clock we were alarmed by the 
approach of the enemy. We only sent out a brigade to amuse 
them, while we took post on the lower side of the creek, and back 
in the woods. There was a pretty smart cannonade till dark, 
when both sides ceased firing. The men ordered to keep their 
posts and lie on their arms. A council of war was held and it 
was determined to file off to the right, through the woods, and 
by bye roads leaving the enemy on the left and attack Princeton 
by daylight : about five hundred men, and two pieces of war can- 
non were left to amuse the enemy. 

Our whole army, with a great train of artillery, marched about 
one, and you may suppose that we must form aivery long line of 
march. We arrived one hour too late. About seven hundred 
British troops were prepared to march, to join their main body, 
part of which lay at Maidenhead. They saw our army about a 
mile and a half distance, which made a very formidable appear- 
ance. They returned to the town and made ready to receive us; 
one division of their troops formed in front of a house on the 
south side of the college and on the right hand of the road. 


Gen. Mercer's brigade filed off to the right, and was attacked by 
the other division. The brigade did not fire till they advanced 
within forty yards. The enemy received this brigade with charged 
bayonets. Gen. Mercer was wounded (it is said by a ball fired) 
but it is a fact he was afterwards wounded in the belly by a bayo- 
net. Our brigade advanced through the skirts of a wood in front 
of the enemy, posted on an eminence with two field pieces. Gen. 
Greene ordered me to form as soon as we arrived on a hill about 
two or three hundred yards distance. Our column was formed 
from the right by divisions. About fifty light infantry of the 
enemy posted themselves behind the fence, about an hundred 
yards distance, And, on our left flank, I despatched Captain 
Henry with a body of light infantry, about an hundred to flank 
that party. But the first discharge from our field pieces on the 
left, drove them up to the main body. I immediately rode in 
front to the column, and ordered the second divisions to double 
up, to the right, the third to the left and so on alternately. This 
was done in the face of the enemy and under a shower of grape 
shot. About half the first battalion was formed when they broke, 
fell back upon the column, threw the whole into confusion. I 
immediately rode round the left and formed a division, joined 
one man after the other to it : but the fire was so hot that they 
again broke. Some of the officers behaved very bravely, and 
exerted themselves to the utmost. Gen. Washington came down 
and exposed himself very much, but expostulated to no purpose. 
I just then saw a considerable party of horse moving off to our 
right, to take advantage of the confusion, but a discharge or two 
from the cannon immediately dispersed them. I asked the Gen- 
eral if it would not be proper to form about an hundred yards in 
the rear. He desired me to try, which succeeded beyond my 
expectation. I collected some of the brigade and some New 
England men, and advanced obliquely to the right, passed a 
fence, and marched up to the left of the enemy. Two small 
parties were formed on the left, and advanced at the same time, 
and bravely pushed up in the face of a heavy fire. The enemy 
then left their station and inclined to the left, and gave us several 
heavy fires, in which two were killed and several wounded. I 
pressed my party forward, huzzaed, and cried out " They fly, the 
day is our own " and it passed from right to left. 

I fancy the enemy found it impossible to escape, as our troops 


all began to rally and join in the pursuit. They all dropped 
their packs and flew with the utmost precipitation, and we pur- 
sued with great eagerness. The men were much fatigued for 
want of rest, provisions, and with marching We followed about 
two miles and then gave over. Many parties are yet out, and 
have taken several prisoners. The town surrendered and about 
sixty, including fourteen officers surrendered. We have taken in 
the whole about three hundred, about thirty killed and fifty 
wounded. I have no doubt but others will be brought in. We 
lost about thirty killed and thirty wounded. We took three 
pieces of brass artillery. The troops that lay at Maidenhead 
returned about the same time we returned from the pursuit. 
Horses could not be secured to carry off the artillery. Major 
Proctor made an exchange : he left an iron three-pounder, and 
brought a brass six-pounder. The enemy proceeded towards 
Brunswick with the utmost expedition ! the British arrived there 
at about day light and the Hessians at twelve yesterday. All 
was in the greatest confusion and the British troops left town 
last evening, and the whole this morning. We marched imme- 
diately to Morristown, where we shall be ready to fall down on 
Elizabethtown, Newark or Amboy. Gen M'Dougal is back of 
Newark, where three Continental regiments, and Jersey militia, 
altogether two thousand. Gen. Heath has crossed the North 
River with three brigades. General Putnam is to come up with 
all the troops he can muster. 

No. 94. Colonel Lambert Cadwalader to Mrs. Samuel 

Philadelphia Jany 7, 1777 — 
My dear Peggy — 

Our victorious little army under General Washington, after 
having performed that signal service at Trenton, of which you 
have heard, returned to this side of the river, but having received 
intelligence of Johnny's ^ crossing near Bristol, the General 
returned again to Trenton. He was there joined by Johnny's 
and Mifflin's Brigades. Having heard that the enemy was mak- 
ing towards him from Princeton, he sent off about 700 men to 
meet and endeavor to drive them back — But the enemy proving 
too numerous, our division retired into Trenton, and over the 
' General John Cadwalader. 


bridge to the Mill-hill where the General in the meantime had 
posted our main force. The enemy took possession of Trenton. 
The General however kept up his camp fires and decamped 
suddenly in the night. He took his march by a back road, got 
into the Bordentown road, and forced his march to that place. 
On his way thither he met with a body of British troops which 
soon gave way. He then advanced rapidly to Princeton and 
took quite a number of prisoners. Our loss is General Mercer 
wounded, Col Haslitt and a Captain of Marines, with a few 
privates killed. 

After the encounter the General marched off for Somerset 
Court House which is eight miles out of the road to Brunswick, 
in order to join General Heath's Army from New England — 
There is a report that this has been effected and that our army 
has gone forward to Brunswick — General Howe cannot raise a 
large array anywhere to make headway against us, so we expect 
very great events in our favor. Our Army in the Jerseys must 
amount altogether to nearly twelve thousand. I forgot to tell 
you that we took five brass cannon in the late engagement. I 
am in great hopes that the enemy will be cleared from the Jerseys 

A son of Warwick Coates is in town who saw Johnny, Mere- 
dith, and Nixon, well at Princeton after the "action. Adieu in 


Your affectionate brother 

Lambert Cadwalader 

No. 95. General Knox to his Wife. 

MoRRisTOWN, Jan. 7, 1777 
My Dearest Love. — 

I wrote to you from Trenton by a Mr. Furness, which I hope 
you have received. I then informed you that we soon expected 
another tussle. I was not out in my conjecture. About three 
o'clock on the 2d of January, a column of the enemy attacked a 
party of ours which was stationed about one mile above Trenton. 
Our party was small, and did not make much resistance. The 
enemy, who was Hessians, entered the town pell-mell, pretty 
much in the same manner that we had driven them a few days 
before. Nearly on the other side of Trenton, partly in the town, 
runs a brook (the Assunpink), which in most places is not ford- 


able, and over which through Trenton is a bridge. The ground 
on the other side is much higher than on this, and may be said 
to command Trenton completely. Here it was our army drew 
up, with thirty or fourty pieces of artillery in front. The enemy 
pushed our small party through the town with vigour, though not 
with much loss. Their retreat over the bridge was thoroughly 
secured by the artillery. After they had retired over the bridge, 
the enemy advanced within reach of our cannon, who saluted 
them_with great vociferation and some execution. This continued 
till dark, when of course it ceased, except a few shells we now 
and then chucked into town to prevent their enjoying their new 
quarters securely. As I before mentioned, the creek was in our 
front, our left on the Delaware, our right in a wood, parallel to 
the creek. The situation was strong, to be sure : but hazardous 
on this account, that had our right wing been defeated, the defeat 
of the left would almost have been an inevitable consequence 
and the whole thrown into confusion or pushed into the Dela- 
ware, as it was impassable by boats. From these circumstances 
the general thought it best to attack Princeton, twelve miles in 
the rear of the enemy's grand army, and where they had the 
17th, 40th and 55th regiments, with a number of draughts, alto- 
gether perhaps twelve hundred men. Accordingly, about one 
o'clock at night we began to march and make this most extra 
manoeuvre. Our troops marched with great silence and order, 
and arrived near Princeton a little after daybreak. We did not 
surprise them as at Trenton ; for they were on their march down 
to Trenton, on a road about a quarter of a mile distant from the 
one in which we were. You may judge of their surprise when 
they discovered such large columns marching up. They could 
not possibly suppose it was our army, for that they took for 
granted was cooped up near Trenton. They could not possibly 
suppose it was their own army returning by a back road ; in 
short, I believe they were as much astonished as if an army had 
dropped perpendicularly upon them. However they had not 
much time for consideration. We pushed a party to attack 
them. This they repulsed with great spirit, and advanced upon 
another column just then coming out of a wood, which they like- 
wise put in some disorder ; but fresh troops coming up, and the 
artillery beginning to play, they were after a smart resistance 
totally put to the rout. The 17th regiment used their bayonets 


with too much severity upon a party they put to flight, but they 
were paid for it in proportion, very few escaping. Near sixty 
were killed on the spot, besides the wounded. We have taken 
between three and four hundred prisoners, all British troops. 
They must have lost in this affair nearly five hundred killed, 
wounded and prisoners. We lost some gallant officers. Briga- 
dier-General Mercer was wounded : he had three separate stabs 
with a bayonet. A Lieutenant-Colonel Fleming was killed, and 
Captain Neil of the artillery, an excellent officer. Mercer will 
get better. The enemy took his parole after we left Princeton. 
We took all their cannon, which consisted of two brass six- 
pounders, a considerable quantity of military stores, blankets, 
guns &c. They lost, among a number of other officers, a Captain 
Leslie, a son of the Earl of Leven and nephew to General Leslie ; 
him we brought off, and buried with the honours of war. After 
we had been about two hours at Princeton, word was brought 
that the enemy were advancing from Trenton. This they did, as 
we have since been informed, in a most infernal sweat, — run- 
ning, puffing, and blowing, and swearing at being so outwitted. 
As we had other objects in view, to wit, breaking up their quar- 
ters, we pursued our march to Somerset Court House, where 
there were about thirteen hundred quartered, as we had been 
informed. They, however, had marched off and joined the army 
at Trenton. We at first intended to have made a forced march 
to Brunswick ; but our men having been without either rest, rum 
or provisions for two nights and days, were unequal to the task 
of marching seventeen miles farther. If we could have secured 
one thousand fresh men at Princeton to have pushed for Bruns- 
wick, we should have struck one of the most brilliant strokes in 
all history. However, the advantages are very great : already 
they have collected the whole force, and drawn themselves to 
one point, to wit, Brunswick. The enemy were within nineteen 
miles of Philadelphia, they are now sixty miles. We have driven 
them from almost the whole of West Jersey. The panick is still 
kept up. We had a battle two days ago with a party of ours 
and sixty Waldeckers, who were all killed or taken, in Monmouth 
County in the lower part of the Jerseys. It is not our interest to 
fight a general battle, nor can I think under all circumstances it 
is the enemy's. They have sent their baggage to Staten Island 
from the Jerseys, and we are very well informed they are doing 


the same from New York. Heath will have orders to march 
there, and endeavour to storm it on that side. " There is a tide 
in the affairs of men, which taken at the fiood leads on to vic- 
tory." For my part, my Lucy, I look up to heaven and most 
devoutly thank the great Governor of the Universe for producing 
this turn in our affairs : and the sentiment I hope will so prevail 
in the hearts of the people as to induce them to be a people 
chosen of Heaven, not to give way to despair, but at all times 
and under all circumstances never to despair of the Common- 

No. 96. Lord Stirling to S 1777 — 

New Town Jany 7 — 1777 — 
Sir — - 

I shall send off to Philadelphia about 70 British prisoners, 
tomorrow morning. Gen' Washington has upwards of 200 more 
with him some more I understand are gone by Burlington ; I 
have just received a letter from Gen^ Washington's Secretary he 
says the loss of the Enemy at Princetown was at least 500 includ- 
ing killed & prisoners a number of their wounded are scattered 
in the farm houses so that very few of the three Regiments viz : 
the 17"^, 40'^" & 55* & 60 dismounted light Horse made their 
Escape ; It was the Generals design to have surprised Bruns- 
wick : But the Enemy's main body pressed so close on his Rear 
that he was obliged to abandon that design & file off to the left 
at Kingston on the 5 th he was at Pluckimin about 16 mile to the 
North West of Brunswick by possessing the Hills in that Country 
he will be able to make the scituation of the Enemy very uneasy 
in East Jersey I doubt not it will oblige them to abandon it. 

With much respect & Esteem I am your most Humble Serv' 


No. 97. American Officers Killed at Princeton. 
Colonel John Haslet, commanding the regiment of Delaware 
state troops, was an Irishman by birth. It appears that he was 
educated for the ministry of the Presbyterian church, but after- 
ward studied physic and practiced it for several years at his home 
in Dover, Delaware. He was a zealous patriot and one of the 
first men in the state in advocating independence. On the 


recommendation of the Council of Safety of the " Three lower 
Counties of Delaware " he was commissioned by the Continental 
Congress January 19, 1776, as colonel of the first organization 
raised in Delaware for the defense of the colonies. He was quite 
tall, erect and athletic. He was beloved by his men, whom it 
was his pride to have exceptionally well drilled and disciplined. 
His regiment took a conspicuous part in the battles of Long 
Island and White Plains. When Colonel Haslet was killed, an 
order was found in his pocket directing him to return home to 
recruit his regiment, which then numbered less than one hundred 
men. This order he delayed complying with while the active 
compaign was in progress and so he met his death. As has been 
stated, he fell with a bullet in his head and died during the after- 
noon of the fight. His remains were taken to Philadelphia and 
buried with military honors in the old Presbyterian burial-ground, 
January 25, 1777. On July 3, 1841, they were removed to the 
graveyard of the Presbyterian Church at Dover, Delaware. The 
Legislature of the State of Delaware by resolution on February 
22, 1841, " remembering his virtues as a man, his merit as a citi- 
zen and his services as a soldier caused a monumental stone in 
testimony of their respect to be placed over his grave." 

Captain Daniel Neil was first appointed captain-lieutenant of 
the Eastern company of Artillery raised in the Colony of New 
Jersey by order of the Provincial Congress February 13, 1776. 
On the first of the following month Frederick Frelinghuysen of 
Somerset County was commissioned captain of the battery, 
but on May 9, 1776, Daniel Neil was promoted captain, and in 
December the company became attached to Knox's brigade of 
artillery on the Continental Establishment. He was personally 
very brave and greatly beloved by his men. General Greene, 
alluding in a letter to the efficiency and early death of this man 
and referring to the grief of his widow in the camp at Morristown, 
said it "melts the hearts of all." 

Captain William Shippin was born about 1750. For several 
years prior to the war he resided in Philadelphia and kept a 
grocer's store on the south side of Market Street wharf. He 
owned two vessels engaged in the coasting trade, but both of 
them were captured by the enemy. In the Journal of the Conti- 
nental Congress March 22, 1776, we find a notice of a petition 
from " Thorowgood Smith and others setting forth that they 


have procured a vessel and raised money to fit her out as a priva- 
teer in order to cruise and guard the coast of Virginia and pray- 
ing that a commission be granted to William Shippin to whom 
they propose to give the command of said vessel and it was 
resolved that a commission be granted to William Shippin as 
captain of the above named vessel." In May, 1776, we find him 
in command of a company of marines on board the armed boat 
Hancock, Captain Thomas Moore, which vessel was attached to 
the Delaware fleet of Commodore Seymour in the December 
following. On the i6th of December, 1776, Margaret Morris 
notes in her journal that " A Captain, a smart little fellow, named 
Shippen " had been hunting for tories in Burlington. It is certain 
that when General MifHin passed over the river with reinforce- 
ments for General Washington's army Captain Shippin, filled 
with patriotic ardor, joined him with a ship's party and some 
marines, and so took part and received his death wound when the 
Pennsylvania militia entered the fight at Princeton. He was 
buried in the Friends' burial-ground on Stony Brook, but was 
afterward disinterred and carried over the Delaware River at 
Burlington at the same time as the body of General Mercer. 
The Pennsylvania Evening Post of Saturday, January 18, 1777, 
says: " Yesterday the remains of Captain William Shippin who 
was killed at Princeton the third instant, gloriously fighting for 
the liberty of his country were interred at St. Peters church-yard. 
His funeral was attended by the Council of Safety, the members 
of Assembly, officers of the Army, a troop of Virginia Light 
Horse, and a great number of inhabitants. This brave and 
unfortunate man was in his twenty-seventh year and has left a 
widow and three young children to lament the death of an affec- 
tionate husband and tender parent, his servants a kind master 
and his neighbours a sincere and obliging friend." A half-pay 
pension was granted his children after his death. In his will his 
name is spelled Shippin, not Shippen, as it is usually written, and 
he therefore could not have been of the family of William Ship- 
pen, Senior, Member of the Continental Congress, nor of Dr. 
William Shippen, Junior, Director General of the Hospitals of 
the Armies of the United States.'- 

Captain John Fleming was a very gallant officer, a member of 
^ Letter of Dr. William Shippen in Pennsylvania Magazine,]3.rm3.ry, 
1898, p. 497. 


what has been for many years a distinguished family in Virginia 
The field officers of his regiment, the First regiment Virginia 
infantry, were not present for duty at the time of the battle, and 
the command devolved on him. Captain Fleming was 'only 
twenty-one years old, and was considered one of the bravest 
young men in the army. The " Pennsylvania Evening Post " of 
February i and the "Journal" of February 5 contained elegies 
on his character " addressed to the Virginian youth." 

Lieutenant Bartholomew Yeates belonged to the same regi- 
ment, and was but eighteen years of age. He was said to be 
possessed of great wealth. His father was a clergyman of the 
Virginia church, the Rev. Robert Yeates of Gloucester County, 
and his mother was Mary, daughter of Edward Randolph, the 
youngest of seven sons of William Randolph, the founder of the 
Virginia family of that name. His name is usually spelled 
Yates, although in most Revolutionary papers another " e " is 
inserted. In the battle he was shot in the breast, after which he 
received thirteen bayonet wounds, besides being knocked on the 
head with a musket after he fell. His dying affidavit of the 
brutal conduct of British soldiers, made on January 9, 1777, was 
forwarded by General Washington to General Howe. In the 
" Pennsylvania Journal " of February 19, 1777, we find this tri- 
bute to him, — 

" But oh ! again my mangled Yeates appears, 
Excites new vengeance and provokes fresh tears ; 
Behold my wounds ! he says or seems to say 
Remember Princeton on some future day ; 
View well this body, pierced in every part, 
And sure 't will fire the most unfeeling heart." 

Ensign Anthony Morris, Jr., was an officer of the First bat- 
talion Philadelphia Associators. He was born August 8, 1738,' 
and was by trade a brewer. His great-grandfather of the same 
name was mayor of Philadelphia in 1704. Ensign Morris re- 
ceived three wounds, " one on the chin, one on the knee and the 
third and fatal one on the right temple by a grape shot." ^ He 
died in about three hours after he was wounded, and was first 
buried in the Friends' burial-ground at Stony Brook, as we find by 
an entry of January 14, 1777, in the diary of Margaret Morris of 

^ Letter of Surgeon Jonathan Potts to Owen Biddle, Pennsylvania 
Committee of Safety, from "Field of Action," January 5. — Pennsyl- 
vania Magazine, January, 1896, p. 537, and see p. 445, ante. 


Burlington. The diary of Christopher Marshall of Philadelphia 
states, under date of January 24, 1777 : " Last evening came from 
the camp the light infantry of the First Battalion of City Militia : 
Also were brought the remains of Ensign Anthony Morris, Jr. 
who was killed at Princeton bravely supporting the Cause of 
Liberty and Freedom : buried this afternoon in Friends burial 
ground in a very heavy shower of rain and without military hon- 
ours it being the request of his relations to the General that he 
should be so interred." 

Among the wounded officers we find Major William Bradford 
of the Second battaUon of Philadelphia Associators, one of the 
publishers of the " Pennsylvania Journal " in Philadelphia, and 
the father of the Honorable William Bradford, the attorney-gen- 
eral of the United States during the presidency of Washington. 

General Washington reported Colonel Potter as among the 
killed, and from that time to the present nearly every historian 
has repeated the error. Colonel James Potter of the Second 
regiment of Northumberland County militia, in his impetuous 
dash after Colonel Mawhood's men, was so unfortunate as to be 
slightly wounded and taken prisoner. Being reported " missing,'' 
Washington thought he had been killed. On his being exchanged 
a few da3's after the battle, Colonel Potter engaged in a raid on 
the enemy at Brunswick, January 19, 1777. He was promoted 
brigadier-general of Pennsylvania militia April 5, 1777, a major- 
general May 23, 1782, and afterward attained a high position in 
the councils of that Commonwealth. 

No. 98. British Officers Killed at Princeton. 

Captain Robert Mostyn entered the British service in the 
Sixty-fifth regiment June 30, 1768, was made a lieutenant No- 
vember 7, 1774, and a captain in the Fortieth regiment May 6, 
1776. Judging from General Howe's return, hereafter referred 
to, Captain Mostyn must have been on duty that day with the 
Fifty-fifth regiment. 

Captain John McPherson entered the army October 27, 1763, 
was made a lieutenant in the Seventeenth regiment July 14, 1769, 
and captain September 8, 1775. He was shot near the lungs by 
a musket ball, and was carried, still living, into the village of 
Princeton. Here he was found by the brave old General Putnam 


when he took possession o£ that place several days after the fight. 
Up to that time Captain McPherson, although suffering great 
pain, had received little attention from the surgeon, but the gen- 
eral provided medical attendance, and bestowed such kindness 
upon his wounded foe that a great friendship sprung up between 
the Scotchman and the American. It is related that when Cap- 
tain McPherson rallied somewhat from the effect of the wound, 
and asked that a British officer at Brunswick be allowed to see 
him. General Putnam permitted the visitor to come in at night, 
and manoeuvred his insignificant force many times past the room 
where the wounded officer lay until he had succeeded in impress- 
ing his British guest with the idea that he had several thousand 
men in his command. Captain McPherson died in Princeton. 

Captain the Hon. William Leslie of the Seventeenth regiment 
was a son of the Scotch Earl of Levin, and a nephew of General 
Alexander Leslie, who had been posted at Maidenhead. He was 
a gallant officer, twenty-six years of age and greatly beloved by 
his men. He entered the English army as an ensign of the 
Forty-second regiment May 3, 1770, was made a lieutenant of 
the Seventeenth regiment July 12, 1773, and captain, February 
26, 1776. He was mortally wounded in the fight, and, when dis- 
covered by General Washington as the latter passed over the 
field after the battle, was properly cared for by Dr. Benjamin Rush 
of Philadelphia, who was with Washington that day. Dr. Rush 
attended to the wants of his wounded foe with more than ordi- 
nary interest, in return, as he told General Washington, for some 
obligation which he owed to Captain Leslie's father for many 
kindnesses received at his hands when a student at the univer- 
sity in Edinburgh. Captain Leslie was carried off with the army 
on their march northward, and received every possible attention, 
but he died the next morning near Pluckemin, and on the follow- 
ing day, January 5, was interred with military honors in the vil- 
lage cemetery at Pluckemin. General Leslie, when he heard of 
the respect shown his nephew by the American officers, was 
greatly affected, and, when the opportunity occurred, sent his 
acknowledgments to General Washington by Lieutenant-Colonel 
Fitzgerald of Washington's staff, who, some days after the bat- 
tle of Princeton, entered the British lines under flag of truce. 
Dr. Rush further showed his regard for the father of the young 
officer by erecting a monument to Captain Leslie's memory in 


the old graveyard at Pluckemin. The following is the inscription 
thereon : — 

In Memory of the 
Honble Captn Willm Leslie 
of the 17th British Regiment 
Son of the Earl of Leven 

in Scotland 
He fell Jany 3d 1777 Aged 
26 Years at the battle of 
His friend Benjn Rush, M. D. of 
hath caused this Stone 
to be erected as a mark 
of his esteem for his WORTH 
and of his respect 
for his noble family 

No. 99. British Casualties at Princeton. 

General Howe's return of the killed, wounded and missing in 
this engagement was as follows : — 

Seventeenth Regiment — i Captain, 12 rank and file killed; 
I Captain, i Lieutenant, i Ensign, 4 Sergeants, 46 rank and file 
wounded ; i Sergeant, i Drummer, 33 rank and file missing. 

Fortieth Regiment — i Lieutenant wounded ; i Ensign, 3 Ser- 
geants, I Drummer, 88 rank and file missing. 

Fifty-fifth Regiment — i Sergeant, 4 rank and file killed; i 
Ensign, i Sergeant, 2 rank and file wounded ; i Captain, i Lieu- 
tenant, I Ensign, i Sergeant, 2 Drummers, 66 rank and file miss-' 

Total : I Captain, i Sergeant, 16 rank and file killed ; i Cap- 
tain, 2 Lieutenants, 2 Ensigns, 5 Sergeants, 48 rank and file 
wounded ; i Captain, i Lieutenant, 2 Ensigns, 5 Sergeants, 4 
Drummers, 187 rank and file missing. — 276. 

This official return omits the name of Second Lieutenant 
Frederick Desaguliers, and nine enlisted men of the Royal regi- 
ment of artillery, killed. 

No. 100. General Howe's Congratulations. 

Head Quarters, New York Jan. 8th 1777. 
General Howe desires Lieut. Col. Mawhood will accept his 
thanks for his Gallantry and good Conduct in the Attack made 
upon the Enemy on the 3d Instant. He desires his thanks may 


also be given to the Officers and Soldiers of the 17th Foot, to 
part of the 55th Regiment and other Detachments on their march 
who on that occasion supported the 17 th Regiment and Charged 
the Enemy with Bayonets in the most Spirited manner. 

The General desires his public Approbation may be signified 
to Capt. Scott of the 17'h Foot, for his remarkable good conduct 
in protecting and securing the Baggage of the 4th Brigade on the 
above Occasion. 

No. loi. Note on General Mercer. 

The Continental Congress directed that his son should be 
educated at the expense of the Government, and they also 
ordered a monument to be erected to his memory at Fredericks- 
burg, Virginia, with this inscription : 












At the time of his death General Mercer was about fifty-six 
years of age. On his tombstone, erected by the Saint Andrew's 
Society, we find a record of his life. He was a native of Aber- 
deen in Scotland, an assistant surgeon in a Highland regiment 
in Charles Edward's army on the disastrous battlefield of CuUo- 
den, April i6, 1746 ; recipient of a medal from the Corporation 
of Philadelphia for his courage in the assault against the Indian 
settlement of Kittanning, on the Allegheny River, where he was 
severely wounded ; the companion of Washington in the Army 
of General Forbes at the reduction of Fort Duquesne ; a physician 
of Fredericksburg, Virginia, a man distinguished for his skill 
and learning, his gentleness and decision, his refinement and 
humanity, his elevated honor and his devotion to the great cause 
of civil and religious liberty. General Mercer was a Minute 
Man in 1775, an organizer of Continental regiments in 1776 and 


Congress promoted him June 5, 1776, from a colonel of the Third 
Virginia regiment to the rank of a general officer. A few 
months afterward " he poured out his blood for a Generous Prin- 
ciple." His patriotism is fully evinced in his remark in the 
Virginia House of Burgesses when he offered his services for 
the war, — " Hugh Mercer will serve his adopted country and the 
cause of liberty in any rank or station to which he may be ap- 

No. 102. Washington's Report on Princeton. 

(The following is General Washington's official report to Congress of the bat- 
tle of Princeton.) 

Pluckemin, 5 January 1777 
Sir : 

I have the honor to inform you, that, since the date of my last 
from Trenton, I have removed with the army under my com- 
mand to this place. The difficulty of crossing the Delaware, on 
account of the ice, made our passage over it tedious, and gave 
the enemy an opportunity of drawing in their several canton- 
ments and assembling their whole force at Princeton. Their 
large pickets advanced towards Trenton, — their great prepara- 
tions and some intelligence I had received — added to their 
knowledge, that the ist of January brought on a dissolution of 
the best part of our army — gave- me the strongest reasons to 
conclude that an attack upon us was meditating. Our situation 
was most critical, and our force small. To remove immediately 
was again destroying every dawn of hope, which had begun to 
revive in the breasts of the Jersey militia : and to bring those 
troops, who had first crossed the Delaware and were lying at 
Crosswicks under General Cadwalader and those under General 
Mifflin at Bordentown (amounting in the whole to about three 
thousand six hundred) to Trenton, was to bring them to an 
exposed place. One or the other, however, was unavoidable. 
The latter was preferred and they were ordered to join us at 
Trenton, which they did, by a night-march, on the i^' instant. 
On the 2^, according to my expectation, the enemy began to 
advance upon us ; and after some skirmishing, the head of their 
column reached Trenton about four o'clock, whilst their rear was 
as far back as Maidenhead. They attempted to pass Sanpink 
Creek, which runs through Trenton, at different places : but, 


finding the fords guarded, they halted and kindled their fires. 
We were drawn up on the other side of the creek. In this situa- 
tion we remained till dark, cannonading the enemy, and receiving 
the fire of their field-pieces, which did us but little damage. 
Having by this time discovered that the enemy were greatly 
superior in number, and that their design was to surround us, I 
ordered all our baggage to be removed silently to Burlington 
soon after dark ; and at twelve o'clock after renewing our fires 
and leaving guards at the bridge in Trenton and other passes on 
the same stream above, marched by a roundabout road to Prince- 
ton, where I knew they could not have much force left, and 
might have stores. One thing I was certain of, — that it would 
avoid the appearance of a retreat (which was of consequence, or 
to run the hazard of the whole army being cut off) whilst we 
might by a fortunate stroke withdraw General Howe from Tren- 
ton and give some reputation to our arms. Happily we suc- 
ceeded. We found Princeton about sunrise, with only three 
regiments and three troops of light-horse in it, two of which were 
on their march to Trenton. These three regiments, especially 
the two first, made a gallant resistance, and, in killed, wounded, 
and prisoners, must have lost five hundred men : upwards of one 
hundred of them were left dead on the field ; and, with what I 
have with me and what were taken in the pursuit and carried 
across the Delaware, there are near three hundred prisoners, 
fourteen of whom are officers, all British. This piece of good 
fortune is counterbalanced by the loss of the brave and worthy 
General Mercer, Colonels Haslet and Potter, Captain Neil of the 
artillery. Captain Fleming, who commanded the first Virginia 
regiment, and four or five other valuable officers, who, with about 
twenty-five or thirty privates were slain in the field. Our whole 
loss cannot be ascertained, as many, who were in pursuit of the 
enemy (who were chased three or four miles) are not yet come 
in. The rear of the enemy's army lying at Maidenhead, not 
more than five or six miles from Princeton, was up with us before 
our pursuit was over : but as I had the precaution to destroy the 
bridge over Stony Brook, about half a mile from the field of 
action, they were so long retarded there, as to give us time to 
move off in good order for this place. We took two brass field 
pieces : but for want of horses, could not bring them away. We 
also took some blankets, shoes, and a few other trifling articles. 


burned the hay, and destroyed such other things, as the shortness 
of the time would admit of. My original plan, when I set out 
from Trenton, was to have pushed on to Brunswic ; but the 
harassed state of our troops, many of them having had no rest for 
two nights and a day, and the danger of losing the advantage we 
had gained by aiming at too much, induced me, by the advice of 
my officers, to relinquish the attempt. But, in my judgment, six 
or eight hundred fresh troops upon a forced march would have 
destroyed all their stores and magazines, taken (as we have since 
learned) their military chest, containing seventy thousand pounds, 
and put an end to the war. The enemy, from the best intelli- 
gence I have been able to get, were so much alarmed at the 
apprehension of this, that they marched immediately to Brunswic 
without halting, except at the bridges (for I also took up those 
on Millstone, on the different routes to Brunswic) and got there 
before day. From the best information I have received, General 
Howe has left no men either at Trenton or Princeton. The 
truth of this I am endeavouring to ascertain, that I may regulate 
my movements accordingly. The militia are taking spirits, and, 
I am told, are coming in fast from this State ; but I fear those 
from Philadelphia will scarcely submit to the hardships of a 
winter campaign much longer, especially as they very unluckily 
sent their blankets with their baggage to Burlington. I must do 
them the justice however to add, that they have undergone more 
fatigue and hardship, than I expected militia, especially citizens, 
would have done at this inclement season. I am just moving to 
Morristown, where I shall endeavor to put them under the best 
cover I can. Hitherto we have been without any ; and many 
of our poor soldiers are quite barefoot, and ill clad in other 

I have the honor to be, &c. 

Go. Washington. 

No. 103. General Washington to General Putnam. 

Pluckemin 5 January 1777 

Dear General : 

Fortune has favored us in an attack on Princeton. General 
Howe advanced upon Trenton, which we evacuated in the even- 
ing of the 2d of this instant and drew up the troops on the south 
side of Mill Creek and continued in that position until dark, then 


marched for Princeton, which we reached next morning by about 
nine o'clock. There were three regiments quartered there of 
British troops which we attacked and routed. The number of 
the killed, wounded and taken prisoners amounts to about five or 
six hundred. We lost several officers and about thirty privates. 
General Mercer is badly wounded, if not mortally. After the 
action we immediately marched for this place. I shall remove 
from hence to Morristown there shall wait a few days and refresh 
the troops, during which time I shall keep a strict watch upon 
the enemy's motions. They appear to be panic-struck, and I am 
in some hopes of driving them out of the Jerseys. It is thought 
advisable for you to march the troops under your command to 
Crosswicks and keep a strict watch upon the enemy in that quar- 
ter. If the enemy continue at Brunswic, you must act with great 
circumspection, lest you meet with a surprise. As we have made 
two successful attacks upon the enemy by way of surprise, they 
will be pointed with resentment and if there is any possibility of 
retaliating, they will attempt it. You will give out your strength 
to be twice as great as it is. Forward on all the baggage and 
scattered troops belonging to this division of the army, as soon 
as may be. You will keep as many spies out as you will see 
proper. A number of horsemen, in the dress of the country, 
must be constantly kept going backwards and forwards for this 
purpose, and if you discover any motion of the enemy, which you 
can depend upon, and which you think of consequence, let me 
be informed thereof as soon as possible by express. 
I am, dear General, yours &c 

Go. Washington. 

No. 104. Comments on the Battle of Princeton. 

Major-General Greene wrote to Thomas Paine with much 
enthusiasm and somewhat pardonable exaggeration : " The two 
last actions at Trenton and Princeton have put a very different 
face upon affairs. Within a fortnight past we have taken or 
killed of Howe's army between two and three thousand men. 
Our loss is trifling." He also wrote to Governor Nicholas Cooke 
of Rhode Island : " Ever since the Trenton affair we have had a 
continual train of success. The Lord seems to have smote the 
enemy with a panic. They are near three thousand weaker than 
they were a month ago." 


Alexander Hamilton said of this change of fortune : " After 
escaping the grasp of a disciplined and victorious enemy, this 
little band of patriots were seen skillfully avoiding an engage- 
ment until they could contend with advantage and then by the 
masterly enterprises of Trenton and Princeton, cutting them up 
in detachments, rallying the scattered energies of the country, 
infusing terror into the breasts of their invaders and changing 
the whole tide and fortune of the war." 

Sir Henry Clinton (incorrect as to the name of the creek and 
route of the army, as well as slightly derogatory to the general- 
ship of his comrade) said : " The two very judicious and officer 
like movements of Lord Cornwallis against Tippoo in 1791 and 
1792 proves what he himself thinks of his conduct in 1776. He 
had driven Washington over the Assumption and the Delaware 
was impassable : the Assumption no where but at its bridge, that 
at Trenton. His Lordship held that at Aliens Town ; they held 
the string too. His Lordship thinking that Washington would 
wait for him till the next day, deceived by his fires &c into this 
belief, neglects to patrole to Aliens Town — over which Wash- 
ington's whole army and the last hope of America, escaped. I 
am sure no Hessian Corporal would have been so imposed upon. 
'T is a wonder Washington did not march to Brunswick." 

Frederick the Great, referring to the events herein described, 
declared that " the achievements of Washington and his little 
band of compatriots between the 25th of December and the 4th 
of January, a space of ten days, were the most brilliant of any 
recorded in the annals of military achievements." 

Lord Cornwallis himself, responding to a toast at the grand 
dinner given at the headquarters of General Washington to the 
ofificers of the British, French and American armies, the day 
after the surrender of Yorktown, said : " And when the illustrious 
part that your excellency has borne in this long and arduous con- 
test becomes matter of history, fame will gather your brightest 
laurels rather from the banks of the Delaware than from those of 
the Chesapeake." 

William Livingston, New Jersey's Revolutionary war governor, 
to the General Assembly, January 24, 1777, wrote in his forcible 
style : " So far from any essential benefit redounding to them 
from their irruption into this state or their having made the least 
advance toward subduing the continent of America, they are now 


obliged to shut themselves up in a small corner of a colony, over 
which, but a few days ago they ridiculously arrogated utiiversal 
empire. As their blunders, if possible, are equal to their cruelty, 
I am persuaded that unless we are wanting to ourselves, we have 
no reason to be dispirited in our righteous contest with a prince 
and a people whom God Almighty, by thus infatuating seems 
determined to destroy." 

John Adams, the great statesman, in a letter dated Baltimore, 
17th February, 1777, wrote to his wife his view of the conse- 
quences of the British movements. " Howe, as you know my 
opinion always was, will repent his mad march through the Jer- 
seys. The people of that Commonwealth begin to raise their 
spirits exceedingly and to be firmer than ever. They are actuated 
by resentment now, and resentment coinciding with principle is 
a very powerful motive." 

The sentiments of the American people were well expressed in 
the proceedings of the " Council of Safety of Pennsylvania," 
when they said : " When Washington turned on his pursuers at 
Trenton and Princeton they expressed a hope that it might be in 
his power to close the campaign with honour to himself and leave 
General Howe in a situation which should afford him little reason 
to boast." 

In Botta's history we find this account of the situation of 
affairs : " Thus by an army almost reduced to extremity, Philadel- 
phia was saved, Pennsylvania protected, New Jersey nearly re- 
covered and a victorious army laid under the necessity of quit- 
ting all thought of actin^g offensively in order to defend itself." 
. . . "Achievements so astonishing acquired an immense glory 
for the captain-general of the United States. All nations shared 
in the surprise of the Americans : all equally admired and ap- 
plauded the prudence, the constancy and the noble intrepidity 
of general Washington. An unanimous voice pronounced him 
the saviour of his country ! all extolled him as equal to the most 
celebrated commanders of antiquity : All proclaimed him the 
Fabius of America. His name was in the mouth of all ! he was 
celebrated by the pens of the most distinguished writers. The 
most illustrious personages of Europe lavished upon him their 
praises and their congratulations. The American general, there- 
fore, wanted neither a cause full of grandeur to defend, nor occa- 


sion for the acquisition of glory, nor genius to avail himself of it, 
nor the renown due to his triumphs, nor an entire generation of 
men perfectly well disposed to render him homage." 

No. 105. Letter from the American Army. 

(Letter from a gentleman of great worth in the American army to the printer 
of tlie " Maryland Journal," dated near Princeton, January 7, 1777.) 1 

On the 2d instant, intelligence was received by express that 
the enemy's army was advancing from Princeton towards Tren- 
ton, where the main body of our forces was then stationed. Two 
brigades, under Gen. Stephen and Fermoy, had been detached 
several hours before from the main body to Maidenhead, and 
were ordered to skirmish with the enemy during their march and 
retreat to Trenton, as occasion should require. A body of men 
under command of Colonel Hand were also ordered to meet the 
enemy, by which means their march was so much retarded as to 
give ample time for our forces to form and prepare to give them 
a warm reception upon their arrival. Two field pieces, planted 
upon a hill at a small distance from the town, were managed with 
great advantage, and did considerable execution for some time; 
after which they were ordered to retire to the station occupied by 
our forces on the south side of the bridge, over the little river 
(the Assanpink), which divides the town into two parts, and opens 
at right angles into the Delaware. In their way through the 
town, the enemy suffered much by an incessant fire of musketry 
from behind the houses and barns. The army had now arrived 
at the northern side of the bridge, whilst our army was drawn up 
in order of battle on the southern side. Our cannon played very 
briskly from this eminence, and were returned as briskly by the 
enemy. In a few minutes after the cannonade began, a very 
heavy discharge of musketry ensued, and continued for ten or 
fifteen minutes ; during this action a party of men were detached 
from our right wing to secure a part of the river which it was 
imagined, from the motions of the enemy, they intended to ford. 
This detachment arrived at the pass very opportunely, and 
effected their purpose. After this the enemy made a feeble and 
unsupported attempt to pass the bridge, but this likewise proved 
abortive. It was now near six o'clock in the evening, and night 
coming on, closed the engagement. 

^ Presumed to have been Dr. Rush. 


Our fires were built in due season, and were very numerous ; 
and whilst the enemy were amused by these appearances, prepar- 
ing for a general attack the next morning, our army marched at 
about one o'clock in the morning from Trenton, on the south side 
of the creek, to Princeton. When they arrived near the hill, 
about one mile from Princeton, they found a body of the enemy 
formed upon it and ready to receive them ; upon which a spirited 
attack was made upon them, both with field pieces and musketry, 
and after an obstinate resistance and loss of a considerable num- 
ber of their men upon the field, those of them who could not 
make their escape, surrendered prisoners of war. We immedi- 
ately marched on to the centre of the town, and there took an- 
other party of the enemy near the College. After tarrying a very 
short time in town. Gen. Washington marched his army from 
thence towards Rocky Hill, and they are now near Morristown, 
in high spirits and in expectation of a junction with the rest of 
our forces, sufficiently seasonable to make a general attack upon 
the enemy and prevent at least a considerable part of them from 
reaching their asylum in New York. 

It is difficult to precisely ascertain the loss we have sustained 
in the two engagements, but as near as I can judge I think we 
have lost about forty men killed, and had near double the num- 
ber wounded. In the list of the former are the brave Colonel 
Hazlett, Captain Shippen and Captain Neal, who fell in the en- 
gagement upon the hill near Princeton. Among the latter was 
Brig. General Mercer, who received seven wounds in his body, 
and two on his head, and was much bruised by the breach of a 
musket. His life was yesterday almost despaired of, but this 
morning I found him much relieved, and some of the most dan- 
gerous complaints removed, so that I still have hopes of his recov- 
ery, and of his being again restored to the arms of his grateful 
country. He is now a prisoner upon parole. 

The loss sustained by the enemy was much greater than ours, 
as was easily discovered by viewing the dead upon the field after 
the action. We have now one hundred of their wounded pris- 
oners in the town which, together with those who surrendered 
and were taken in small parties endeavoring to make their escape, 
I think must amount to the number of 400, chiefly British troops. 
Six brass cannon have fallen into our hands, a quantity of am- 
munition and several wagons of baggage. A Capt. Leslie was 


found among the dead of the enemy, and was this day buried 
with the honors of war. A number of other officers were found 
on the field, but they were not known and were buried with the 
other dead. According to information from the inhabitants of 
Princeton, the number which marched out of it to attack our 
army amounted to 13,000 men, under command of Genl. Corn- 
wallis. This body, as soon as they discovered they were out- 
generaled by the march of Gen. Washington, being much cha- 
grined at their disappointment (as it seems he intended to have 
cut our army to pieces, crossed the Delaware and marched with- 
out any further delay ,_ to Philadelphia,) rushed with the greatest 
precipitation towards Princeton, where they arrived about an 
hour after Gen. Washington had left, and imagining he would 
endeavor to take Brunswick in the same manner, proceeded 
briskly for that place. Our soldiers were much fatigued, the 
greater part of them having been deprived of their rest the two 
preceding nights, otherwise we might perhaps have possessed 
ourselves of Brunswick. The enemy appear to be preparing to 
decamp and retire to New York, so they are much disgusted with 
their late treatment in New Jersey and have a great inclination to 
rest themselves a little in some secure winter-quarters. 

No. 106. Major Samuel Meredith to . 

Morris Town, Jany. gth, 1777. 

I have been so busy ever since I wrote you till this time, and, 
indeed, there has been no opportunity till this day or two, that it 
will plead my excuse. As I have not heard any disagreeable 
news from Phila., I take it for granted that my dearest and little 
ones are well, and if so, I shall be happy. 

The Greatest stroke of Generalship that has been shown in this 
war was exhibited by General Washington in our march from 
Trenton to Prince Town. It entirely disconcerted the progress 
of the enemy, who knew nothing of our march till the firing hap- 
pened at Prince Town between them and us, for we went a back 
road all the way. What was done there you have heard I don't 
doubt, with a good deal of exaggeration. It was, however, a very 
capital stroke, for those who were not taken or killed retired with 
utmost precipitation. Those from Trenton did so likewise. They 
are now posted on this side of Brunswick, the landing Piscataway, 
Amboy, &c. They retired from Elizabeth Town yesterday. The 


militia of this County fell upon their Rear & took 90 or 100 of 
them, (and killed some,) with a considerable quantity of Baggage. 
Our Baggage, when we left Trenton, was all sent down to Bur- 
lington, so that we have had no shift of clothes at all. But it is 
expected in a few daj's. The person this letter is to go by 
called just as I began, so that I have not an opportunity of say- 
ing as much as I would. Do remember me to all the Family, & 
believe that I am, with the greatest Love to you and the little 
ones, your affectionate, 

S. M. 

No. 107. Letter from the British Army. 

" Relation of the Engagement at Trenton and Princetown on Thursday and 
Friday the 2nd & 3rd of Jan'ry 1777 by Mr Hood 3rd Battn." 

About 12 oClock on Wednesday morning Orders came to them 
to march from Crosswicks to Trenton — they arrived at Trenton 
on Wednesday morning ^ ab't 9 oClock — in one hour after, the 
Alarm Gun fired and all thee Battalion got under arms immedi- 
ately — they were ordered to march over the Bridge & form a 
Line with the whole Brigade Comman'd by Gen'l Cadwalader — 
in about i h'r after they perceived the Enemy advancing and fir- 
ing their artillery, on which they were ordered to take possession 
of a wood up the Creek to prevent the Enemy from out flanking 

— at this time the Enemy & two of our Brigades were engaged 
beyond Trenton on the Princetown Road. Our People retreated 
into Trenton. They on this returned back to the Bridge & 
form'd in a line — with 3000 men & 2 field ps in the Main Street 

— and 2. field p's secreted behind Mr. Wain's house opposite the 
Mill — & some Rifle men in the Mill, & artillery all along the 
Creek — after they were so station'd the Enemy advanced towards 
the Bridge. While they were advancing, a Cannonade on both 
sides commenced, & the Enemy threw a number of Shells which 
did no execution and one Cannon Ball, passed through the 3d 
Battalion & killed 2 men. — the Enemy advanced ab't half way 
over the Bridge, when they were repulsed it is supposed with 
considerable loss as a heavy fire was kept up both in front and 
flank with the artillery and musquetry, for abt 12 minutes, the 
firing ceased in the dusk of the evening — they were then ordered 
to form a square round the Woods and to make up their fires & 

1 This should read Thursday morning, January 2. 


to lay on their Arms, — abt 12 oClock at Night they were ordered 
under Arms — they were then ordered to lay down their arms & 
return to their fires. — a little after One ordered to Arms again. 
they united the several Brigades together & the Artillery ad- 
vanced before them & the army followed, 'this was all done with 
greatest Silence — they continued their March round the head of 
the Mill Creek dam, & pass'd a Bridge and so continued their 
rout to the Princetown Road & then cross'd it & pass'd into a 
bye road & proceeded about i mile to the northward of Prince- 
town — and continued this rout till day light when they saw 
Princetown — and came through the Woods & field on the Back 
of the town and perceived the Enemy ab' 700 on the rise of a Hill 
ab' I of a Mile from the town, — a firing began by the Virginia 
Brigade, and then it was supported by Gen'l Cadwaladers brigade 
which was at first put in a little confusion, but rallied under the 
Hill immediately. ■ — in the meantime a New England Brigade 
advanced and the Rifle Men flanked the Enemy, and they broke 
& run immediately upon W^i^ our people pursued them, advanced 
to the Town, they fired one Shot into the College, when a man 
waved his Hat, another Shot was fired & a flag was sent out & 
they surrendered, to the number of 86 — afterwards a number 
more was brought in to the ammo'' of 200 — in this action ab'' 
100 of the Enemy was killed & ab't 14 of ours. (We drove off 
100 head of Cattle with the Army.) Gen'l Mercer advanced at 
the Head of his Brigade between a Barn & a house near where 
the Engagement began — his horse was shot under him & fell, 
when the Gen was recovering from the fall the Enemy thrust a 
Bayonet in his head, it is said he died of his wounds, and Cap- 
tain Shippen shot through the head — this party of the Enemy 
were entirely scattered & numbers of them were taken in small 
parties. — at Princetown 5 Field p's taken one of w'"^*" spiked up, 
several Baggage Waggons, and some ammunition & Stores — 
they then halted at Princetown ab't i hour when they heard a 
platoon fireing on the Princetown Road, they were order under 
arms & to form, — Gen'l Miflin came to them & told them the 
Enemy was a coming, to prepare for a Brush — they then 
march'd to Kingston took to the left went up Mill Stone Creek 
abt 3 Mile, the head of the Army halted there for the Rear — that 
the informant went to a farmers to get some refreshments, fell 
asleep and waked in the morning, the Army was gone — he heard 


they were at Somerset Court house on Saturday morning and 
that he intended to proceed to join Gen'l Heath ; that . . . 

No. 108. From the New York Gazette and Weekly 

(January 13, 1777.) 

New York, 13 January 1777 

Several Skirmishes between the King's Troops, and the Rebels 
have lately happened in the Jersies. But the most distinguished 
Rencounter occurred on the 3d Instant, near Princetown. The 
17th Regiment, consisting of less than 300 Men fell in with the 
Rebel-Army of between 5 and 6000, whom they attacked with all 
the Ardor and Intrepidity of Britons They received the Fire of 
the Rebels from behind a Fence, over which they immediately 
leaped upon their Enemies, who presently turned to the right 
about with such Precipitation as to leave their very Cannon 
behind them. The Soldiers instantly turned their Cannon, and 
fired at least 20 Rounds upon their Rear, and had they been 
assisted with another Regiment or two, the Rebels would have 
found it rather difficult to make good their Retreat. This has 
been one of the most splendid Actions of the whole Campaign, 
and has given a convincing Proof that British Valour has not 
declined from its antient Glory. Of Col. Mawhood^ their gallant 
Commander ; and of his Conduct in the Affair, too many Enco- 
miums cannot be said. The Loss was about Twenty Killed and 
Eighty wounded of the Troops. Of the Rebels above 400 were 
killed and wounded. Among their Slain were eleven Officers. 
Mr. Mercer^ (one of the wounded Rebel-Officers, since dead) 
when he was taken up by our People, asked how many the Num- 
bers were who had thus attacked him, and upon being told, he 
cried out with astonishment ; " My God, is it possible ? I have 
often hfeard of British Courage ; but never could have imagined 
to find such an Instance as this ! " 

Another Account says. That the 17th Regiment just before 
they charged the Rebels, deliberately pulled off their Knapsacks, 
and gave three Cheers, then broke through the Rebels, faced 
about, attacked, and broke through them a second Time. Col. 
Mawhood then said, it would be prudent, as they were so few, to 
retire ; upon which the Men one and all cried out, " No, No ; 
Let us attack them again ; " And it was with great Difficulty 


their Colonel could induce them to retreat ; which at length they 
performed in the utmost Order. 

To the Honor of this brave Regiment, both as Soldiers and as 
Men, not one of them has ever attempted to plunder, or encour- 
age it in others. 

In the several Skirmishes, the Rebels have lost above 700 

By the nearest Calculation that can be formed, the Rebels, in 
the Course of the last year, did not lose by Sickness and Battle 
less than 25,000 Men. An immense Draught in a Country, 
where the Price of Labor is so great, and the Hands so few. 

It is said, that several of the Hessian officers, from a just 
Sense of Honor, and Conviction of the Meanness of suffering a 
soldier to plunder, are resolved to discourage it intirely. Per- 
haps, the best Means of preventing it in future, would be to burn 
all that the Soldiers have collected before their faces, and to 
assure them they must expect the same Attention to real military 
Discipline hereafter. 

No. 109. General Greene to . 

(Extract of a letter from Major-General G (Greene) to a gentleman in 

Philadelphia, dated Morristown, January 9.) 

Not a line have I received from you since you left us at New- 
town — I am much obliged to you for the attention — Were I not 
fully persuaded that you are anxious to know the success of our 
late manauvres, I would not have wrote you a syllable this fort- 
night. I almost think the author of the Crisis a prophet where 
he says the Tories will curse the day that Howe arrived upon the 
Delaware. I verily believe the observation is coming true. The 
two late actions at Trenton and Princeton have put a very differ- 
ent face upon affairs. 

Within a fortnight past we have taken and killed of Howe's 
army between two and three thousand men — Our loss is trifling 
— we are daily picking up their parties — yesterday we took 
seventy prisoners and thirty loads of baggage. 

Great credit is due to the Philadelphia militia, their behaviour 
at Trenton in the cannonade, and at Princeton was brave, firm 
and manly ; they were broken at first in the action at Princeton, 
and soon formed in the face of grapeshot, and pushed on with a 


spirit that would do honor to veterans, besides which they have 
borne a winter's campaign with a soldier like patience. General 
Cadwallader is a brave and gallant officer. 

No. no. From the Freeman's Journal. 

(January 21, 1777.) 
General Washington, finding it absolutely necessary to rouse 
the spirits of the army, which have been sorely depressed by the 
long series of disasters which have attended us for almost the 
whole of the month, resolved to attempt surprising a considerable 
body of Hessians, quartered at Trenton, consisting of about 
nineteen hundred, and a detachment of British light horse. The 
plan was as spiritedly executed as it was judiciously concerted, 
and terminated in fully answering the warmest expectations of its 
projectors. Yesterday morning, orders were given for a large 
part of the army to have three day's provisions ready cooked, 
and forty rounds a man, and to be ready to march by three 
o'clock in the afternoon ; accordingly the farthest brigades 
marched by two o'clock. About eleven o'clock at night it began 
snowing, and continued so until daybreak, when a most violent 
northeast storm came on, of snow, rain and hail together. Early, 
the American army, which did not exceed twenty-four hundred 
men, crossed the Delaware with several companies of artillery 
and thirteen field-pieces, and formed in two divisions : one com- 
manded by General Greene, the other by General Sullivan, and 
the whole by General Washington. The attack began about 
seven o'clock by the van-guard of Sullivan's division, who at- 
tacked the Hessians' advanced guard, about a mile from the 
town. These they soon drove, when the whole pushed with the 
utmost vigor for the town, which they immediately entered. Gen- 
eral Greene's division attacked the town on the other side at the 
same time. The Hessians did as much as could be expected 
from people so surprised, but the impetuosity of our men was 
irresistible : fifteen minutes decided the action, and the enemy 
threw down their arms and surrendered prisoners of war. They 
consisted of three regiments of grenadiers and fusileers, and were 
equal to any troops the Prince of Hesse could boast of. The 
troop of British dragoons, without waiting to be charged, scam- 
pered off -with the utmost expedition. Could the brigade under 
Colonel Ewing have landed below the town, as was intended, the 


light horse must inevitably have been taken, as well as a consid- 
erable number of the Hessians who got off : but the violence of 
the wind was such, and the quantity of the ice so great, that he 
found it impossible to cross. Our success, though not complete, 
was great. The men behaved with the utmost bravery. Finding 
that their guns did not generally go off, owing to their having 
been exposed to the snow and rain for six hours, they charged 
bayonets, and, with three cheers, rushed like bloodhounds upon 
the Hessians, who, astonished at their fury fled or threw down 
their arms : and it was owing to the ardor of the attack that so 
little blood was shed. The army returned the same day, and, 
notwithstanding a continual pelting for twelve hours, of a most 
violent rain, hail, and snow-storm, we had only two men frozen 
to death. Luckily they found some hogsheads of rum at Tren- 
ton, large draughts of which alone preserved the lives of many. 
The soldiers behaved exceedingly well with respect to plundering, 
considering they were animated by revenge for past insults, exas- 
perated by the injuries done their messmates taken at Fort 
Washington and animated by every incentive that could work 
upon the license of a successful army. The general gave the 
Hessians all their baggage and they have since gone to the west- 
ern counties of Pennsylvania, with their packs unsearched. They 
were amazed at the generosity of the general, so opposite to their 
own conduct, and call him a very good rebel. The enemy who 
lay at Bordentown soon had the alarm, which was communicated 
to all the parties along the river, who, after remaining under 
arms the whole day, in the evening marched off, leaving us to 
take possession of Bordentown, Mount Holly and Burlington. 

No. III. From the Pennsylvania Evening Post. 

(January 21, 1777, signed "An American Whig." The part of the letter not 
herein published is certainly in the style of Governor Livingston.) 

The late success of General Washington, in the Jersies, must 
afford the most heart felt pleasure to every American Whig. 

It was but the other day that the British and foreign troops 
made a rapid progress through that state, little or no opposition 
having been made to them — scarce an enemy to be seen — the 
remains of our little army being obliged to retreat before them, 
and take shelter on this side the Delaware. 

General Howe, in all that careless security which uninterrupted 


success usually creates, cantons his army up and down the coun- 
try in parties. Full of their own prowess, and entertaining a 
contempt for their enemies, they thought of nothing but getting 
rich in plunder, and are thrown entirely off their guard. Gen. 
Washington, perceiving this favourable opportunity, on a sudden 
resolves to take advantage of it. In one of those dark and 
dismal nights, which the greatest masters in the art of war recom- 
mend for an enterprize of this kind, he passes over the Delaware 
with only twenty-four hundred men and quick as lightening falls 
on the astonished and surprised enemy. He wins an almost 
bloodless victory, takes one thousand of the enemy prisoners, 
their baggage, cannon and colours — he afterwards returns — 
meanwhile a general panic seizes the whole. General Washington 
again lands on the other side ; and, having been joined by some 
other troops, the enemy recollect themselves, and prepare for the 
attack. He avoids it, and at midnight, decamping, marches 
round about, and leaving the enemy behind him at Trenton, 
comes upon a party by surprize at Princeton, routs them, takes 
three hundred prisoners, and three pieces of brass ordnance. 
This unlooked for manoeuvre perplexes and amazes those who 
were left behind. They, hearing the battle, march on to Prince- 
ton to succour their brethren, but all is over there. They pro- 
ceed in all haste to Brunswick, whilst our army turns off to the 
left, to meet a reinforcement, which will enable them to fall upon 
the enemy, and force them out of all their territories in the Jersey 

They will now, I hope, be brought to confess that there is 
either some little courage left among our troops, or that they 
have lost their own. . . . 

No. 112. From the Connecticut Journal. 

(January 22, 1777.) 
Immediately after the taking of the Hessians at Trenton, on 
the 26"' ult, our army retreated over the Delaware and remained 
there for several days and then returned and took possession of 
Trenton, where they remained quiet until Thursday, the 2"^ inst. ; 
at which time the enemy having collected a large force at Prince- 
ton, marched down in a body of 4,000, or 5,000 to attack our 
people at Trenton. Through Trenton there runs a small river 
over which there is a small bridge. General Washington, aware 


of the enemy's approach, drew his army, (about equal to the 
enemy) over that bridge, in order to have the advantage of the 
said river and of the higher ground on the farther side. Not 
long before sunset, the enemy marched into Trenton : and after 
reconnoitering our situation, drew up in solid column in order to 
force the aforesaid bridge, which they attempted to do with great 
vigor at three several times and were as often broken by our 
artillery and obliged to retreat and give over the attempt after 
suffering great loss, supposed at least one hundred and fifty 
killed. By this time night came on and General Washington 
ordered fires to be kindled and every thing disposed of for the 
night. But after all was quiet he ordered a silent retreat, drew 
off his army to the right, marched all night in a round-about road 
and next morning arrived with his army at Princeton. All this 
was done without any knowledge of the enemy who in the morn- 
ing were in the utmost confusion not knowing which way our 
army had gone until the firing at Princeton gave them informa- 

No. 113. Proclamation. 

Proclamation by His Excellency George Washington, Esquire, General and 
Commander-in-Chief of all the forces of the United States of America. 

Whereas several persons, inhabitants of the United States of 
America influenced by inimical motives, intimidated by the 
threats of the enemy, or deluded by a Proclamation, issued the 
30th of November last, by Lord and General Howe, styled 
the King's Commissioners for granting pardon &c (now at open 
war and invading these States) have been so lost to the interest 
and welfare of their country, as to repair to the enemy, sign a 
declaration of fidelity and in some instances, have been com- 
pelled to take oaths of allegiance and to engage not to take up 
arms or encourage others so to do against the king of Great 
Britain : And whereas it has become necessary to distinguish 
between the friends of America and those of Great Britain, inhab- 
itants of these States and that every man who receives a protec- 
tion from and is a subject of any State (not being conscientiously 
scrupulous against bearing arms) should stand ready to defend 
the same against every hostile invasion : I do therefore, in behalf 
of the United States, by virtue of the powers committed to me 
by Congress, hereby strictly command and require every person, 
having subscribed such declaration, taken such oaths accepted 


protection and certificates from Lord and General Howe or any 
person acting under their authority for them to repair to Head- 
quarters or to the quarters of the nearest General officer of the 
Continental Army or Militia (until further provision can be made 
by the Civil Authorities) and there deliver up such protections, 
certificates and passports and take the oath of allegiance to the 
United States of America; Nevertheless hereby granting full 
Liberty to all such as prefer the interest and protection of Great 
Britain to the freedom and happiness of their country, forthwith 
to withdraw themselves and families within the enemies lines; 
and I do hereby declare that all and every person who may neg- 
lect or refuse to comply with this order, within Thirty days from 
the date thereof will be deemed adherents to the King of Great 
Britain and tried as common enemies of the American States. 
Given at Headquarters Morris Town January 25 1777 

GO. Washington 

By His Excellency's command 
Robert H. Harrison 


No. 114. From George Inman's Narrative of the Ameri- 
can Revolution. 

The beginning of Novr. was at the Reduction of Fort Washing- 
ton soon after crossed the North River to Fort Lee was also 
reduced and proceeded through the Jerseys to Trenton, meeting 
with little or no opposition, the beginning of Deer, we left Tren- 
ton for our own Cantonments at Hillsborough and 2 Brigades of 
Hessian Troops under Col. Rail, marched in to be Quartered 
there, we Enjoy'd our Winter Quarters but a few days, when 
Gen'l Washington having crossed the Delaware, came suddenly 
on Rail's Brigades at Trenton the 24th Deer, and Captured, 
Killed and dispersed the whole, the British Army was obliged to 
quit their Quarters and assembled at Prince Town the Americans 
still remaining at Trenton and daily receiving from their late 
success large reinforcements. The Season of the Year being 
severe, snow on the ground and for Nights having no other bed 
than hard frozen Earth or Ice and no other covering than a cloak 
oftentimes induced me to Reflect on past times when I used to 
sleep in soft downy Beds and with every comfortable necessary 


around me, amongst them friends whom I left, and wch perhaps 
if I had remained might still have enjoy' d. 

The advance of the Army having proceeded to Trenton we 
were ordered on the 3d January 1777 from Prince Town as an 
Escort to Stores and at sunrise a large Body of the Enemy were 
discovered on our left wch Col. Mawhood immediately determined 
to attack, we having the 55th and a party of convalescents with a 
few of the 17th Dragoons, the enemy proved too powerful for us, 
the 55 th giving away and retired to Prince Town, where the 40th 
Reg't were posted and both Reg'ts quitted that Town, retiring 
before the Enemy to Brunswick ; we attacked their Centre Col- 
umn and drove them to their main body, but, they rallying we 
were obliged to retire, after making such an exertion as we were 
able to proceed to our Army then lying at Maidenhead. We suf- 
fered much out of 224 Rank and file that marked off the Parade 
at 5 o'clock that Morning we sustained a Loss of loi Rank and 
file. Killed and wounded and much the greater part of the first 
fire received, I being the only Officer in the Right wing of the 
Battalion that was not very much injured receiving only a Buck 
shot through my Cross Belt wch just entered the Pit of my 
Stomach and made me sick for the moment. We had a very 
severe march that day and all the following night, passing over 
the field of Action abt 4 o'Clock that afternoon through Prince 
Town and with the whole Army to Brunswick where we got on 
the 4th abt Nine in the Morning. After halting one day to re- 
fresh ourselves we proceeded to Amboy where we remained the 
Winter, but found it irksome and unpleasant Quarters, being out 
almost every day, wch harrass'd the Garrison much. 

No. 115. Sergeant Joseph White's Narration. 

(Extract from " An narrative of events in the Revolutionary War, with an 
account of the Battles of Trenton, Trenton Bridge and Princeton," by 
Joseph White, who was an orderly sergeant in the regiment of artillery.) 

On the afternoon of the 25th of December 1776, our whole 
army after marching several miles up the river Delaware, in a 
violent snow storm, crossed it, in order to attack a body of Hes- 
sians, posted at Trenton, under the command of Col. Rhol, who 
was killed in battle. At day light, their out guard, posted about 
three or four miles off from their main body, turned out and gave 


us a fire. Our advanced guard opened from right to left, we 
gave them four or five cannisters of shot, following them to their 
main body, and displayed our columns. 

The 3d shot we fired broke the axletree of the piece — we stood 
there some time idle, they firing upon us. Col. Knox rode up 
and said. My brave lads, go up and take those two field pieces 
sword in hand. There is a party going, you must go & join them. 
Capt. A. said Sergeant W you heard- what the Col. said — you 
must take the whole of those that belonged to that piece, and 
join them. This party was commanded by Capt. Washington, 
and Lieut. Munroe, our late President of the U. States, both of 
which were wounded. The party inclined to the right. I hal- 
lowed as loud as I could scream, to the men to run for their lives 
right up to the pieces. I was the first that reach them. They 
had all left it, except one man tending vent — run you dog, cried 
I, holding my sword over his head, he looked up and saw it, then 
run. We put in a cannister of shot (they had put in the cart- 
ridge before they left it) and fired. The battle ceased. 

I took a walk over the field of battle, and my blood chill'd to 
see such horror and distress. . . 

After staying in Pennsylvania from 26th of December 1775 
(1776) to January 2d, 1777 our whole army crossed over to Tren- 
ton again with about one half the number less than we had when 
we retreated over the river Delaware. 

The night before a large body of malitia joined our army, and 
they were sent out to meet the enemy, and fight upon their retreat. 
As soon as they had got over the bridge, we had all our cannon 
placed before it, consisting of 18 or 19 pieces. The enemy came 
on in solid columns : we let them come on some ways, then by a 
signal given, we all fired together. The enemy retreated off the 
bridge and formed again, and we were ready for them. Our 
whole artillery was again discharged at them. They retreated 
again and formed : they came on a third time. We loaded with 
cannister shot, and let them come nearer. We fired all together 
again, and such destruction it made, you cannot conceive. The 
bridge looked red as blood, with their killed and wounded and 
their red coats. The enemy beat a retreat, and it began to grow 


We were dismissed for an hour or two, to pull down all the 


fences we could find, to build fires with them — and get some 
refreshment. The fires were made to deceive the enemy : to 
make them suppose that we were there encamped. 

About 9 or 10 o'clock orders came by whispering, (not a loud 
word must be spoken) to form the line and march. We took such 
a circuitous rout, we were all night marching from Trenton to 

A little before we got in sight of the enemy, our whole army 

We marched on a short distance, we see them all formed in a 
line and ready to receive us. We marched forward so did they. 
I ordered the limbers off and to man the drag ropes. They were 
to the north of us, the sun shone upon them and their arms glis- 
tened very bright, it seemed to strike an awe upon us. . . . We 
then loaded with cannister shot, they made a terrible squeaking 
noise. Both armies kept on marching towards one another, until 
the infantry come to use the bayonets. Our company being on 
the extreme left, had to face the enemy's right ; consisting of 
grenadiers, highlanders & their best troops. 

Our left line gave way — but before I moved, saw the second 
come up, and Gen. Merser, who was killed, leading them. I 
never saw men looked so furious as they did, when running by 
us with their bayonets charged. The British lines were broken, 
and our troops followed them so close, that they could not form 
again. A party of them ran into the colleges, which is built of 
stone. After firing some cannon they surrendered. The pris- 
oners we took were about 500 men besides killed and wounded. 

I have seen in a book, a few years ago, printed in Philadelphia, 
said to be a return from the Adjutant General, that we lost 300 
men killed and mortally wounded in the battle of Princeton. 

The British supposed to be about the same number in killed 
and wounded. 

No. 116. Extract from the Journal of Lieutenant 
Samuel Shaw of the Artillery. 

You have without doubt heard of our success at Trenton. 
Our army lay in the town two days. On the 3'^ day about noon 
we were alarmed by the enemy advancing, and in about two 
hours they came up from Princeton and drove our advanced 


guard into Trenton — Our people on this retreated from tlie 
thickest of the town over a bridge and waited for the enemy to 
approach ; but night coming on put a stop to anything further 
being done at that time. In the mean while the General came to 
a resolution of stealing a march upon the enemy and attacking 
their troops which were left behind at Princeton, about eleven 
miles by a back road. We began our march about midnight 
which was performed with so much secrecy that the enemy knew 
nothing of it till the next morning discovered that we were gone, 
and the first news they had of us was our beating up their quar- 
ters at Princeton. We killed, wounded and took about five hun- 
dred of them at that place. This with our taking of the Hessians 
has given our affairs quite a different turn so that the Militia are 
embodying in all parts of the Jerseys and appear determined to 
have satisfaction for the injuries they have sustained from the 
enemy. I had the pleasure of being in both actions and can truly 
say, I think it impossible for any troops to behave better than 
ours did ; only at Princeton the militia who had never seen any 
action were a little skittish at first, but after that they behaved 
very well. We are under very little apprehension from the enemy 
at present, as they seem very much panic-struck ; and in so great 
haste were they to get to a place of security that they did not 
stay long enough at Princeton to take care of their wounded. 

The enemy have retired to Brunswick and Amboy where they 
are so narrowly watched by our people that they cannot get the 
least forrage without fighting for it. 

While we lay at Trenton after crossing the Delaware a second 
time when the enemy advanced from Princeton with a superior 
force nearly double of ours. Our out-guards were repulsed and 
the enemy entered one part of the town while we remained in 
possession of the other. There was now only a small branch of 
a River between us over which was a bridge ; this though well 
secured would have been but of little advantage to us as the 
stream was fordable in every part. Our army was drawn up in 
order of battle, and waited the approach of the enemy ; but the 
day being far spent put a stop to their making the attack that 
night — Then my friend — was the most critical moment our 
bleeding country ever beheld — The fate of this extensive Conti- 


nent seemed suspended by a single thread and the Independence 
of America hung on the issue of a general battle which seemed 
inevitable — But happy for us happy for unborn millions, that we 
had a General who knew how to take advantage and by a mas- 
terly manuvre frustrated the designs of the enemy — This step 
considered in its consequences proved the salvation of the coun- 
try — The most sanguine among us could not flatter himself with 
any hopes of victory had we waited till morning and been reduced 
to the necessity of engaging a foe so vastly our superior both in 
numbers and discipline and who could never have a chance of 
fighting us on more advantageous terms — i 

No. 117. From Aliion's Parliamentary Register. 

(History of the Debates and Proceedings of the House of Commons, vol. xii. 

P- 39I-) 

In the course of the debate May 3, 1779, which reflected se- 
verely on Lord North and especially on Lord George Germain, 
the latter among other arguments for his own defense said : 

If the general in the tide of success, which run so strongly in 
his favor, had followed his advantages properly up, by crossing 
the Delaware, and had possessed himself of the Province of Penn- 
sylvania, which at that time would have been the consequence of 
the possession of Philadelphia, he thought both now and then, 
and he was well warranted and justified in assuring the House, 
that we had a fair prospect of a successful campaign, and of the 
happy termination of the war in the course of it. But all our 
hopes were blasted by that unhappy affair at Trenton. 

No. 118. General Howe to Lord Germain. 

(Extract of a letter from Sir William Howe to Lord George Germain, dated 
New York, 20 January, 1777.) 

It is with much concern, that I am to inform your Lordship, 
the unfortunate and untimely defeat at Trenton, has thrown us 
further back than was at first apprehended, from the great en- 
couragement it has given to the rebels. 

I do not now see a prospect of terminating the war, but by a 
general action, and I am aware of the difficulties in our way to 
obtain it, as the enemy moves with so much more celerity than 
we possibly can. 


No. iig. Lord Germain to H. M. Peace Commissioners. 

(Lord Germain to His Majesty's Commissioners for restoring Peace, 3 March, 

The affair at Trenton happened, it is true, subsequent to the 
date of your Letter. I trust, however, that the unexpected suc- 
cess of the Rebels there will not so far elate them as to prevent 
them from seeing the real horrors of their situation, and tempt 
them to disdain to sue for pardon. 

No. 120. Translation of a Hessian Diary 

(Published in the Pennsylvania Evening Post, Saturday, July 26, 1777.) 

December 13th, 1776. 

We marched to Trenton and joined our two regiments of Rail 
and Kniphausen, in order to take up a sort of winter quarters 
here, which are wretched enough. This town consists of about 
one hundred houses, of which many are mean and little, and it is 
easy to conceive how ill it must accommodate three regiments. 
The inhabitants, like those at Princeton, are almost all fled, so 
that we occupy bare walls. The Delaware, which is here ex- 
tremely rapid, and in general about two ells deep, separates us 
and the rebels. We are obliged to be constantly on our guard, 
and do very severe duty, though our people begin to grow ragged, 
and our baggage is left at New-York. Notwithstanding we have 
marched across this extremely fine provmce of New-Jersey, which 
may justly be called the garden of America, yet it is by no means 
freed from the enemy, and we are insecure both in flank and rear. 
This brigade has incontestably suffered the most of any, and we 
now lie at the advanced point, that as soon as the Delaware 
freezes we may march over and attack Philadelphia, which is 
about thirty miles distant. My friend Sheffer and myself lodge 
in a fine house belonging to a merchant, and we have empty 
rooms enough. Some of the servants of the inhabitants remain 
here ; last evening I gave one a box on the ear for his sauciness ; 
I bid him bring me a candle, and he replied, if I wanted candles, 
I should have brought them with me. I was furnished with a 
candle, but nothing else. Here is no wine, except Madeira at 
three shillings and sixpence sterling a bottle. On the third in- 
stant Capt. Weitershausen, of the grenadiers, was shot at Bruns- 
wick bridge by a rebel, who had concealed himself under the 


bridge. The Capt. had wrote by the last packet to his wife, de- 
siring her to follow him to America. On the 13th General Lee, 
with two other officers, were taken prisoners by the English light- 
horse, to the great damage of the rebels. 

The i6th the rebels came over the river in boats, but effected 

The 18th seventy rebels came over the water, and we were 
obliged to turn out. But they only carried off a family who 
went willingly, with three cows and some furniture. 

The 19th one of the English lighthorse was twice badly wounded 
by a troop of rebels near Maidenhead. 

The 2ist a horseman was shot dead. 

The 23rd Count Donop wrote to us from Bordentown, desiring 
us to be on our guard, for that he was certain of being attacked. 

The 24th the enemy actually attacked our grenadiers last night, 
but without success, two Highlanders and a grenadier were 
wounded. We have not slept one night in peace since we came 
to this place. The troops have lain on their arms every night, 
but they can endure it no longer. We give ourselves more trou- 
ble and uneasiness than is necessary. That men who will not 
fight without some defense for them, who have neither coat, shoe 
nor stocking, nor scarce anything else to cover their bodies, and 
who for a long time past have not received one farthing of pay, 
should dare to attack regular troops in the open country, which 
they could not withstand when they were posted amongst rocks 
and in the strongest intrenchments, is not to be supposed. 

No. 121. From an English Book of Orders found at 

His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief orders that all inhab- 
itants that shall be found with arms, not having an officer with 
them shall be immediately taken and hung up. 

From another Book found at Princeton. 

Head-Quarters, Trenton, December 12th 1776. 
Small straggling parties not dressed like soldiers' and without 
officers, not being admissible in war who presumes to molest or 
fire upon soldiers or peaceable inhabitants of the country, will be 
immediately hanged without trial as assassins. 


No. 122. Contemporaneous Documents. 

Other contemporaneous documents and history which have a 
direct bearing upon the retreat through the Jerseys, the conduct 
of General Lee in this campaign, the surprise at Trenton, the 
affair at Assunpink bridge, the battle of Princeton and the march 
to Morristown may be found as follows : — 

Letters of General Washington in Ford's Writings of George 
Washington, vol. v. pp. 60-177, ^.nd in Sparks' Writings of 
George Washington, vol. iv. pp. 197-287. 

Letters to General Washington in Sparks' Correspondence of 
the American Revolution, vol. i. pp. 309-323. 

Force's American Archives, fifth series, vol. iii. pp. 1039-1619. 

Pennsylvania Archives, first series, vol. v. pp. 84-177. 

Pennsylvania Archives, second series, vol i. pp. 431-436. 

Archives of the State of New Jersey, second series, vol. i. 
pp. 240-279. 

Ensign William Beatty's Journal, on file in the Maryland His- 
torical Society at Baltimore. 

Sergeant William Young's Diary, in Pennsylvania Magazine, 
vol. viii. p. 255. 

General Joseph Reed's Narrative, in Pennsylvania Magazine, 
vol. viii. p. 391. 

Thomas Paine's Letter to the Abbe Raynal, pp. 16-24. 

Examination of Joseph Galloway before the British House of 
Commons, pp. 14-44- 

Letters to a Nobleman on the Conduct of the War, by Joseph 
Galloway, pp. 43-60. 

Thacher's MiHtary Journal, pp. 79-87. 

Wilkinson's Memoirs, vol. i. pp. 95-151- 

Journal of Apollos Morris, in Sparks' Collection, Harvard Col- 
lege Library. 

John Howland's Narrative, in Spirit of '76 in Rhode Island, 

pp. 304-313. 

Ramsey's History of American Revolution, vol. 1. pp. 311-326. 

Reed and Cadwalader pamphlets and all the pamphlets relat- 
ing to the ' Reed Controversy " contain copies of original letters. 
See p. 75, ante. 

Diary of a French officer, in Magazine of American History, 

May, 1880. 


Adolphus' History of Great Britain. 

Aitkin's Annals of the Reign of George III. 

Allen's History of the American Revolution. 

Almon's Remembrancer. 

American Historical Record. 

Amory's Life of General Sullivan. 

Anderson's Life of Lieutenant-Colonel Anderson. 

Andrews' History of the War with America. 

Andrews' History of the Wars of England. 

Annual Register, 1777. 

Arnold's Rhode Island. 

Balch's Papers relating chiefly to the Maryland line. 

Bancroft's History of the United States. 

Barnard's History of England. 

Barnes' Centenary History. 

Barry's History of Massachusetts. 

Bartlett's History of the American Revolution. 

Bartlett's Rhode Island and Providence Plantation Records. 

Beatty, Ensign, Journal of. 

Belknap's History of New Hampshire. 

Belsham's Memoir of George III. 

Bigelow's Life of Benjamin Franklin. 

Bissett's History of the Reign of George III. 

Bonney's Legacy of Historic Gleanings. 

Botta's History of the War of Independence. 

Bradford's History of Massachusetts. 

Brewster's Rambles about Portsmouth, New Hampshire. 

Bryant and Gays Popular History of the United States. 

Burke's History of Virginia. 

Burr's Antiquarian Record. 

Butler's History of the United States. 

Caldwell's Life of General Greene. 

Cameron's Old Princeton. 

Campbell's History of Virginia. 

Carrington's Battles of the American Revolution. 


Cairington's Strategic Relations of New Jersey. 

Centennial Celebration at Princeton. 

Centennial Collections of Morris County, New Jersey. 

Chastellux, Marquis de, Travels in North America. 

Clyde's Rosbrugh, a Tale of the Revolution. 

Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 

Connecticut Journal. 1777. 

Cornwallis' Reply to Sir Henry Clinton. 

Cowell's Spirit of '76 in Rhode Island. 

Custis' Recollections of Washington. 

Daily's History of Woodbridge, New Jersey. 

Davis' History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. 

Davis' Memoirs of Burr. 

Davis' Washington on the West Bank of the Delaware in 1776. 

Dawson's Battles of the United States by Sea and Land. 

Dawson's History of Westchester County, New York. 

Dodsley's Annual Register, Vols. XIX. and XX. 

Donne's Correspondence of George Third with Lord North. 

Drake's Life and Correspondence of General Knox. 

Duer's Life of Lord Stirling. 

Duncan's History of the Royal Artiller}'. 

Dunlap's History of the American Theatre. 

Dunlap's New York. 

Edmond's Life and Times of General Washington. 

Eelking's Deutsche Hiilfstruppen im Nord Amerikanischen Freiheit- 

Egle's History of Pennsylvania. 
Elliott's Women of the Revolution. 
Everett's Life of General Stark. 
Ewald's Notes on American War. 
Ewald's Beyspiele grosser Helden. 
Field's Battle of Long Island. 
Fiske's War of Independence. 
Fiske's The American Revolution. 
Fonblanque's Burgoyne. 
Force's American Archives. 
Ford's Writings of George Washington. 
Forester, Frank, Writings of. 
Freeman's Journal, 1777- 
Frost's American Generals. 
Frost's History of the United States. 
Frothingham's Rise of the Republic. 
Gaine's New York Gazette and Mercury. 
Gaine's Universal Register. 


Galloway's Examination before the British House of Commons. 
Galloway's Letters to a Nobleman on the Conduct of the War. 
Galloway's Reflections on the American Revolution. 
Galloway's Reply to Howe. 

Gentleman's Magazine, London, 1776 and 1777. 
Girardine's History of Virginia. 
Godey's Magazine, Vol. XXXII. 
Goodrich's History of the United States. 

Gordon's History of the Rise, Progress and Establishment of the Inde- 
pendence of the United States. 
Gordon's History of New Jersey. 
Graydon's Memoirs. 

Greene's German Element in the War of Independence. 
Greene's Historical View of the American Revolution. 
Greene's Life of General Greene. 

Greene's New System of Military Discipline, by a General Officer. 
Griswold's Washington and his Generals. 
Guizot, Life of Washington. 
Hageman's History of Princeton, New Jersey. 
Hale's One Hundred Years Ago. 
Hall's History of War in America